Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?

I am a big Shakespeare fan and he is one of my favorite authors. Shakespeare is regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and is famous for works like Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet. He wrote 38 plays, two long narrative poems and several other poems.

In addition, he wrote 154 sonnets that were published in 1609. The most common theme of Shakespeare’s sonnets is love. Most of these sonnets are addressed to a handsome young man (the first 126 sonnets); the other ones are addressed to a “dark lady”, the poet’s mistress. Shakespeare also refers to a rival poet (sonnets 78-86).

Shakespearean sonnets, also referred to as English sonnets, consist of a poem of fourteen lines. The sonnets have three four-line stanzas (quatrains) and a final rhymed couplet.

Here is my favorite Shakespearean sonnet:

Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day
 Sonnet 18 
William Shakespeare

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall death brag thou wander’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 lives this, and this gives life to thee.

In this sonnet, the poet compares his lover to the summer and states that his lover is better (“more lovely and more temperate”). He also describes the summer in a negative way; sometimes the sun shines too hot (“sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines”) and the summer is too short (“summer’s lease hath all too short a date”). The poet goes on and declares that the summer’s beauty will eventually fade, but that his lover’s beauty will last forever. His lover’s beauty will live on forever through the words of the poem (“So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee”). The final couplet also illustrates that there is still hope for the two lovers; even though they may not live on forever through their children, they will live on through the words of the poem. Life fades away, but their love is preserved by the poet’s words and will therefore last forever!

I think that this is such a beautiful sonnet! I just love it! What is your favorite Shakespearean sonnet?

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