Sonnet 18


Sonnet 18 Essay Essay, Research Paper

Shakespeare – Sonnet 18 This sonnet is by far one of the most interesting poems in the book. Of

Shakespeare’s sonnets in the text, this is one of the most moving lyric poems that I have ever read. There

is great use of imagery within the sonnet. This is not to say that the rest of the poems in the book were not

good, but this to me was the best, most interesting, and most beautiful of them. It is mainly due to the

simplicity and loveliness of the poem?s praise of the beloved woman that it has guaranteed its place in my

mind, and heart.The speaker of the poem opens with a question that is addressed to the beloved, “Shall I

compare thee to a summer’s day?” This question is comparing her to the summer time of the year. It is

during this time when the flowers are blooming, trees are full of leaves, the weather is warm, and it is

generally thought of as an enjoyable time during the year. The following eleven lines in the poem are also

dedicated to similar comparisons between the beloved and summer days. In lines 2 and 3, the speaker

explains what mainly separates the young woman from the summer’s day: she is “more lovely and more

temperate.” (Line 2) Summer’s days tend toward extremes: they are sometimes shaken by “rough winds”

(line3) which happens and is not always as welcoming as the woman. However in line 4, the speaker

gives the feeling again that the summer months are often to short by saying, “And summer?s lease hath

too short a date.” In the summer days, the sun, “the eye of heaven” (line 5), often shines “too hot,” or too

dim, “his gold complexion dimmed” (line 6), that is there are many hot days during the summer but soon

the sun begins to set earlier at night because autumn is approaching. Summer is moving along too

quickly for the speaker, its time here needs to be longer, and it also means that the chilling of autumn is

coming upon us because the flowers will soon be withering, as “every fair from fair sometime declines.”

(Line 7) The final portion of the sonnet tells how the beloved differs from the summer in various respects.

Her beauty will be one that lasts forever, “Thy eternal summer shall not fade.” (Line 9), and never end or

die. In the couplet at the bottom, the speaker explains how that the beloved’s beauty will accomplish this

everlasting life unlike a summer. And it is because her beauty is kept alive in this poem, which will last

forever. It will live “as long as men can breathe or eyes can see.” (Line 13)On the surface, the poem is on

the surface simply a statement of praise about the beauty of the beloved woman and perhaps summer to

the speaker is sometimes too unpleasant with the extremes of windiness and heat that go along with it.

However, the beloved in the poem is always mild and temperate by her nature and nothing at all like the

summer. It is incidentally brought to life as being described as the “eye of heaven” with its “gold

complexion”. The imagery throughout the sonnet is simple and attainable to the reader, which is a key

factor in understanding the poem. Then the speaker begins to describe the summer again with the “darling

buds of May” giving way to the ” summer?s lease”, springtime moving into the warmth of the summer.

The speaker then starts to promise to talk about this beloved, that is so great and awing that she is to live

forever in this sonnet. The beloved is so great that the speaker will even go as far as to say that, “So long

as men breathe, or eyes can see,” the woman will live. The language is almost too simple when comparing

it to the rest of Shakespeare?s sonnets; it is not heavy with alliteration or verse, and nearly every line is its

own self-contained clause, almost every line ends with some punctuation that effects a pause. But it is this

that makes Sonnet18 stand out for the rest in the book. It is much more attainable to understand and it

allows for the reader to fully understand how great this beloved truly is because she may live forever in it.

An important theme of the sonnet, as it is an important theme throughout much of the poetry in general,

is the power of the speaker’s poem to defy time and last forever. And so by doing this it is then carrying

the beauty of the beloved down to future generations and eventually for al of eternity. The beloved’s

“eternal summer” shall not fade precisely because it is embodied in the sonnet: “So long as men can

breathe or eyes can see,” (line 13) the speaker writes in the couplet, “So long lives this, and this gives life

to thee.”(Line 14) With this the speaker is able to accomplish what many have done in poetry and that is

to give the gift of an eternal life to someone that they believe is special and outshines everyone else around

them. Perhaps it is because of a physical beauty that the speaker see, but I believe that it is more because

of the internal beauty as seen in line 2, “Thou art more lovely and more temperate”, that the beloved is

deserving to live on forever.

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