Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare

A sonnet is a fourteen line poem, formed by a single complete thought, sentiment, or an idea that originated in Europe. The sonnet consists of rhymes that are arranged according to a certain definite scheme, which is in a strict or Italian form, divided into a major group of eight lines, which is called the octave. The octave is followed by a minor group of six lines which is called the sestet. In common English form it is in three quatrains followed by a couplet.

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Sonnet 18 is one of the most popular sonnets written by Shakespeare. He opens the sonnet with a question, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” he is saying should I compare your beauty to a beautiful summer’s day. Shakespeare goes on to say that her beauty is gentler, and more perfect than a summer day. Her beauty will be eternal in his poem and she will not lose possession of the beauty she possess.

Shakespeare wrote this poem for his love, to let her know how beautiful she was. He wanted to ensure that everyone could see her beauty in his sonnet. In the end he tells her that as long as there are people on earth, than her beauty will live on in his poems forever.

As per Wikipedia, “Sonnet 18” is also known as “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?” “Sonnet 18” is one of the best sonnets written by Shakespeare. His poem will have eternal life through the written words of Shakespeare. Sonnet 18 is a typical English, and Shakespeare sonnet, it consists of three quatrains, followed by a couplet. The poem has characteristics of rhyming. They also state that the writer portrays that beauty is borrowed from nature, and must be paid back. There is a statement saying that the poem is figuratively talking about procreation of homosexuality, however they contradict themselves by also stating that the order of the sonnets introduces the possibility that the poem is about a woman instead of men like the first seventeen sonnets.

Spark notes also agrees with Wikipedia that this sonnet is commonly referred to “Shall I Compare thee to a Summer’s Day”. Sonnet 18 has simplicity and loveliness as it praises the loved one. I t is also one of the first sonnets that did not encourage young men to have children because they do not necessarily need children to preserve their beauty. The purpose of this poem is to defy time and last forever, and pass on the beauty of this person to future generations. However, Spark notes states that this poem is about a man and that his beauty will live forever, in this sonnet. The language in this poem is compatible with the sonnet because it does not have many repetitions of the same sounds made by a vowel, and nearly every sentence has its own separate subject, and verb.

My judgment of this sonnet, is that it is about a women that he loves and cares for. He speaks of her beauty, comparing it to a summer’s day, and how her beauty will last forever, unlike a summer’s day that is too short. Her beauty is gentler and more perfect than a summer day, when the sun is so bright and hot, that it can be blinding, or how the clouds pass by the sun. He explains in words how beautiful she is by comparing her to nature. He tells her that as long as there are people on earth to read his poem that her beauty will live on for an eternity.

Russell Lord writes that William Shakespeare creates a temperate of elements of comparison. Shakespeare first criticizes summer and how rough winds shake the “darling buds” in May. Russell states that “This objection might seem trivial until one remembers that the poet is invoking a sense of the harmony implicit in classical concepts of order and form which writers of the Renaissance emulated”. Lord means that the poet is trying to create a harmony of classical concepts in a specific order and form that was obsolete to people in the Renaissance times. The use of darling is a harmonious concept that makes the vision of a normal universe holding its creations and processes with love.

Lord continues to say that in lines 7 and 8 Shakespeare summarizes the objection of the summer day by stating that “everything that is fair will be “untrimmed”, either by chance or by a natural process”, which means that everything that summer makes will lose its beauty over time. The word “fair” means to be more than just beautiful on the outside but to beautiful on the inside as well, by using the words “lovely” and “darling”. Shakespeare invokes the concept of corruption, even though he is apparently discussing the disadvantages of a summer’s day when compared to a person, he is at the same time causing a transition to the next sonnet, number nineteen, which is the second element of his comparisons.

Robert Ray states that most critics and editors seem to think that the word “complexion” in line six refers only the physical appearance and it points to the face of the sun. The face of the sun is dimmed by passing clouds sometimes, and that the beauty of its face is destroyed, therefore Shakespeare is addressing the beauty of the young man. However, Ray feels that “complexion” stands for Shakespeare’s most common form of the four humors in his time, in a certain proportion. He feels that it was there way of speaking of a person’s temperate. It refers to both external and internal, as does “complexion”. The poem complements the young man’ moderate disposition. The clouds passing the sun are said to refer to how the young man’s temperate can become darker.


Sonnet 18
Lord, Russell. MasterplotsII: Poetry, Revised Edition, January 2002, p1-2. (Work Analysis) Author Name: Shakespeare, William

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18
Ray, Robert H.. Explicator, Fall94, Vol. 53 Issue 1, p10, 2p. (Literary Criticism)

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