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 dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest 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.
Short Poem Analysis
"Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?" (Sonnet 18) by William Shakespeare is one of the most famous and celebrated sonnets in English literature. This sonnet is a testament to the timeless power of love and poetry itself. Through its beautiful language and imagery, the poem explores the nature of beauty, mortality, and the enduring qualities of art.
The poem begins with a rhetorical question, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" This question serves as a framing device, introducing the central theme of comparing a beloved's beauty to the transient and fleeting beauty of nature.
As the poem progresses, it becomes clear that the answer to the question is a resounding "no." The speaker explains that the beloved's beauty far surpasses that of a summer's day, which is subject to change and decline.
The speaker uses vivid and evocative imagery to describe the beloved's beauty. He uses metaphors such as "thou art more lovely and more temperate" and "eternal summer shall not fade" to convey the idea that the beloved's beauty is not only more exquisite but also enduring, unlike the changing seasons.
The final couplet of the sonnet takes on a different tone, shifting from the comparison of beauty to the power of poetry itself. The speaker asserts that the beloved's beauty will be preserved through the lines of the poem, ensuring that it remains immortalized for generations to come.
"Sonnet 18" encapsulates Shakespeare's exploration of the transcendent power of art and the written word. By preserving the beloved's beauty in verse, the speaker defies the limitations of time and mortality. The poem is a celebration of the potential for poetry to capture and immortalize moments of beauty, love, and human emotion.
Overall, "Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?" is a timeless expression of admiration, a meditation on the eternal quality of art, and a declaration of the enduring power of love and poetry to transcend the passage of time.