Shakespeare Sonnet 18 Essay

Shakespeare Sonnet 18 Essay

The speaker opens the poem with a question addressed to the beloved: "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" The next eleven lines are devoted to such a comparison. In line 2, the speaker stipulates what mainly differentiates the young man from the summer's day: he is "more lovely and more temperate." Summer's days tend toward extremes: they are 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 too short, and it leads to the withering of autumn, as "every fair from fair sometime declines." The final quatrain of the sonnet tells how the beloved differs from the summer in that respect: his beauty will last forever ("Thy eternal summer shall not fade...") and never die. In the couplet, the speaker explains how the beloved's beauty will accomplish this feat, and not perish because it is preserved in the poem, which will last forever; it will live "as long as men can breathe

This sonnet is certainly the most famous in the sequence of Shakespeare's sonnets; it may be the most famous lyric poem in English. Among Shakespeare's works, only lines such as "To be or not to be" and "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?" are better-known. This is not to say that it is at all the best or most interesting or most beautiful of the sonnets; but the simplicity and loveliness of its praise of the beloved has...

Loading: Checking Spelling


Read more

Immortality Through Verse in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 and Spenser’s Sonnet 75

1701 words - 7 pages Immortality Through Verse in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 and Spenser’s Sonnet 75       Desiring fame, celebrity, and importance, people for centuries have yearned for the ultimately unattainable goal of immortality. Poets, too, have expressed desires in verse that their lovers remain as they are for eternity, in efforts of praise. Though Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 and Spenser’s Sonnet 75 from Amoretti both offer lovers this immortality through...

Sonnets by the Great William Shakespeare

1027 words - 4 pages Mrs. FacchineriENG 3U1June 2, 2004Poetry as a Vehicle for Love Love is a common theme throughout many plays and poems written by William Shakespeare, and is seen in many Sonnets written by William Shakespeare as well. These Sonnets were the true forms of poetry that William wrote for many of his "close friends"....

Sonnet 18

525 words - 2 pages Amazing authors can induce thoughts by a single word. The ideas that can form in our heads by a small phrase are powerful. Only the most talented and capable authors can provoke such feelings within us. Who is more than able to stir these feelings in a reader but William Shakespeare? His various plays keep us entranced and curious but it is his poetry that strikes a chord deep within us. Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare is particularly...

Sonnet 18

542 words - 2 pages "To be or not to be set free", now that is the question. William Shakespeare and Claude Mckay are two inspirational writters of their time. With the unique genre of Claude Mckay in his poem "If we must die" and William Shakespeare's emotional expression of love captured in...

Pre –1914 Poetry Comparison on Love

1400 words - 6 pages In this compare and contrast essay I will compare four poems in detail and mention two in the passing to find similarities and differences. The poems and sonnets I have chosen to compare are ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ and ‘My Last Duchess’ by Robert Browning and Sonnet 18 and Sonnet 130 by William Shakespeare The two Robert Browning poems, ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ and ‘My Last Duchess’ were written in the infamous Victorian Era whereas the two...

Poetry analysis on "How Do I Love Thee" and "Sonnet XVIII"

835 words - 3 pages "Sonnet: How Do I Love Thee"by: Elizabeth Barrett Browning&"Sonnet XVIII"by: William...

Time in Shakespeare's Sonnets.

1900 words - 8 pages William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was a favourite with both Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603) and King James 1 (1603-1625), and is arguably the most influential writer in history. Author of hundreds of literary works, he remains a pioneer of English literature. Shakespeare's...


863 words - 3 pages Jason RadowitzDrydenENB 220Shakespeare EssayLooking young and beautiful has always been one of the world's most wanted assets. They're afraid that people will no longer love them when they aren't looking like their prime. In sonnet 18, the poet praised youth's beauty, asking people to cherish their beauty longer before settling down and creating a new life. People in today's world will do anything...

Critical Analysis - Shakespeare's Sonnet 18

585 words - 2 pages Sonnet #18 "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" -- William Shakespeare Mood: Cheerful, praising, awestruck, confident Theme: True beauty is immortalized through art and thus prevails despite the ravages of time.Structure: Lines 1-9, 10-14 In sonnet #18,...

Shakespearian Love Sonnets

3011 words - 12 pages Shakespearian Love Sonnets Whilst reading the play, 'Romeo and Juliet', I encountered many beautiful images of love and many comparisons to objects to highlight a person's beauty. In the play, when Romeo first sees Juliet, he is overwhelmed by her utter beauty. He says: "O she doth teach the torches to burn bright! It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night As a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear- Beauty too...

How does Shakespeare explore different representations of love in Romeo and Juliet and in a selection of his sonnets

1370 words - 5 pages How does Shakespeare explore different representations of love in Romeo and Juliet and in a selection of his sonnets The idea of endless love; "till death do us a part" is evident in Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet. His characters, known for their deep infatuation with one another have turned into world renowned heroes and heroines and their idea of love has turned into a international phenomena. Shakespeare uses the relationships of...

Sonnet 18

SHall I compare thee to a Summers day?
Thou art more louely and more temperate:
Rough windes do ſhake the darling buds of Maie,
And Sommers leaſe hath all too ſhorte a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heauen ſhines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d,
And euery faire from faire ſome-time declines,
By chance, or natures changing courſe vntrimm’d:
But thy eternall Sommer ſhall not fade,
Nor looſe poſſeſſion of that faire thou ow’ſt,
Nor ſhall death brag thou wandr’ſt in his ſhade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’ſt,
So long as men can breathe or eyes can ſee,
So long liues this, and this giues life to thee,

The sonnet’s opening question supposes a negative answer, even if the reasons for not comparing are based on comparisons. A “Summers day” is a day of summer not metonymically the season of summer. The youth, compared to a summer’s day, is more “louely,” both more ‘beautiful’ and more ‘loving,’ and is more “temperate:” “temperate” of weather is neither too hot nor too cold and of persons is not given to extremes or equitable. A summer’s day is subject to variety and the wind’s harshness (“Rough windes do shake the darling buds of Maie”), where “darling” (dear + ling) means ‘small’ and ‘precious.’ “Maie” as a summer month is problematic: in the 16th and 17th centuries the calendar was 10/11 days in arrears and, although reformed under Pope Gregory in 1582, the recalculated dates were not fully introduced into England until 1752. The midsummer solstice in the 1590s still occurred not on June 21/22 but on June 11, the Feast of St. Barnabas, celebrated by Spenser in his Epithalamion as  “the longest day in all the yeare, / And shortest night.” Thereafter Spenser sees the sun “declining daily by degrees” as the house of Cancer progresses. 1 May, then, was a month straddling spring and summer. Moreover summer only has a lease on time, a limited contract with a short-term concluding date, “Sommers lease hath all too short a date.”

A summer day’s intemperate nature is demonstrated by the sun (“the eye of heauen”) which ‘sometimes’ or ‘at some time’ (“Sometime”) shines “too hot” and frequently, when masked by the clouds (“gold complexion dimm’d”), too coolly. 2 Although “complexion” suggests facial colouring, it was thought to result from an infusion of humours: a combination of qualities such as hot or cold in a certain proportion determined the nature of a plant or body. Because the hot and cold of the sun are not in proper proportion or degree, it is not temperate. It is also an example of the maxim that “euery faire from faire some-time declines,” as both it and its brightness decline daily to the west and seasonally after the summer solstice. The declining occurs either by accident (“By chance”) or by “natures changing course,” its seasonal change after the solstice as it loses its richness or embellishment; “vntrim’d” means ‘with its ornamentation removed’ (gold was customarily used as trim) or reduced to ruins; ‘untrimmed’ was used to translate the Latin acosmus, without order or without decoration (see Cooper’s Thesaurus, “Acosmus . . Vndecked: vntrimmed: a sloouen”). 3 A lamp untrimmed was one that was extinguished.

The poet’s argument now foresees a time when the youth will grow to time (“ when . . to time thou grow’st”). ‘To grow to’ was a legal term occuring in the law of leases which recalls Sonnet 13’s “beauty which you hold in lease,” and which should “Find no determination,” a ‘determination’ being where the lessee dies without heirs and possession of the estate reverts to the lessor. The reverting or forfeiting technically occurred under “the law of growing-to” and the estate was said to ‘grow to,’ to revert or escheat to the lessor. The “immortall lines” are either those of the poet in which the youth is engraved or engrafted (see Sonnet 15.14, “I ingraft you new”), which because immortal will forestall any ‘growing-to’ time. Or, as in Sonnet 16.9, they are the “lines of life,” the immortal lines that are the length of the “faire inheritance” or lineage that the youth will bequeath through his ever-continuing line, which will prevent any ‘growing-to’ or being ceded to time. (Compare Sidney, Ps. 39.15, “Lo, thou a spanns length mad’st my living line.”) Such poetic or generational immortality means that the youth’s non-seasonal (“eternall”) summer will not fade away. Nor will it be dispossessed (“loose possession”) of the beauty the youth owns (“ow’st”) in contrast to the lease on time which temporal summer has. Nor will death boast of or lay claim to the youth (“brag thou wandr’st in his shade,” with its echo of Ps. 23.4 “though I walke through the valley of the shadowe of death” (BB)); “shade” also evokes the shades or ghosts who wander the underworld, as well as hades or the abode of the dead. 4 Until the end of time (“So long as men can breath or eyes can see”), the poet claims, his off-spring (“this”) will prevail and will afford immortality to the young man (“this giues life to thee”).


18.1. Edmund Spenser, Amoretti and Epithalamion (London: William Ponsonby, 1595) 271-72; compare 265-66, “This day the sunne is in his chiefest hight, / With Barnaby the bright,” or Donne, LXXX Sermons 70, Sermon VII, “That man that is blinde, or that will winke, shall see no more sunne upon S. Barnabies day, then upon S. Lucies; nor more in the summer, then in the winter solstice.” Daniel also has May as a summer month in Delia (1592) 35.1-6.

18.2. Compare R2 3.2.190-91, “Men iudge by the complexion of the Skie / The state and inclination of the day.”

18.3. See also Cooper, Thesaurus “Acosmia . . A disordered heape of thinges.”

18.4. Shakespeare elsewhere uses “shade of death” for ‘shadow of death’ see 1H6 5.4.89 & 2H6 3.2.54.

0 Thoughts to “Shakespeare Sonnet 18 Essay

Leave a comment

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *