Summary: Sonnet 18
The speaker opens the poem with an issue addressed to the beloved: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” subsequent eleven lines are dedicated to such a. Inline 2, the speaker stipulates what mainly differentiates the young man from the summer’s day: he’s “more lovely and more temperate.” Summer’s days tend toward extremes: they’re shaken by “rough winds”; in them, the sun (“the eye of heaven”) often shines “too hot,” or too dim. And summer is fleeting: its date is just too short, and it results in the withering of autumn, as “every fair from fair sometime declines.” the ultimate quatrain of the sonnet tells how the beloved differs from the summer therein respect: his beauty will last forever (“thy eternal summer shall not fade…”) and never die. within the couplet, the speaker explains how the beloved’s beauty will accomplish this feat, and not perish because it’s preserved within the poem, which can last forever; it’ll live “as long as men can breathe or eyes can see.”
This sonnet is certainly the foremost famous within the sequence of Shakespeare’s sonnets; it’s going to be the foremost famous lyric in English. Among Shakespeare’s works, only lines like “To be or to not be” and “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” are better-known. this is often to not say that it’s in the least the simplest or most interesting or most beautiful of the sonnets; but the simplicity and loveliness of its praise of the beloved have guaranteed its place.
On the surface, the poem is just a press release of praise about the sweetness of the beloved; summer tends to unpleasant extremes of windiness and warmth. But the beloved is usually mild and temperate. Summer is incidentally personified because the “eye of heaven” with its “gold complexion”; the imagery throughout is straightforward and unaffected, with the “darling buds of May” giving thanks to the “eternal summer”, which the speaker promises the beloved. The language, too, is relatively unadorned for the sonnets; it’s not heavy with alliteration or assonance, and nearly every line is its self-contained clause—almost every line ends with some punctuation, which affects an interruption.
These images develop from one another: the primary describes the way time passes, the second describes the way a person’s life passes, and therefore the third describes the way time is liable for the ravages in human life. Each quatrain may be a single four-line sentence. Developing one argument through metaphor: time passes relentlessly, human life is cripplingly short before it quickly succumbs to age and decay, time is that the ravager is liable for the downfall of men’s lives. This is often one of the good themes of the sonnets. within the couplet, the speaker then stunningly declares that he has found how to confound time: his verse, despite time’s “cruel hand,” will survive, and still praise the price of the beloved. this is often the often-invoked corollary to the good theme of time’s passage: the speaker. Disappointed that the young man won’t defy time by having children. Writes poem after poem about the mighty power of the “bloody tyrant” time, then declares that his poems will remain immortal, and can enable the young man’s beauty to measure forever. Sonnets 18, 19, 55, 63, and 65 all follow this formula, and echoes of it appear in countless many other sonnets.
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