Sonnet 18 of Shakespeare is certainly the most popular sonnet because it is the one which has been deeply imbibed in the culture of the people. It is one of the 154 sonnets of Shakespeare and one among the sonnets addressed to the Fair Youth. The Fair Youth is the poet’s beloved whose name and identity are unknown. Sonnet 18 follows the rhyme scheme ABAB CDCD EFEF GG written in iambic pentameter. This sonnet was published in 1609 Quarto.
This sonnet departs from the previous sonnets of insisting the youth for procreation and pass on his beauty to next generation. The 154 sonnet sequence of Shakespeare doesn’t carry it’s own unique title i.e, Shakespeare did not assign title to his sonnets. Therefore, in all the sonnets, the first line serves as the title i.e, Sonnet 18: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Sonnet 18 of Shakespeare Sonnet 18 of Shakespeare
SONNET 18 OF 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 owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.
SONNET 18 OF SHAKESPEARE SUMMARY
William Shakespeare starts sonnet 18 with a question to the Fair Youth if he can compare the young man to a summer’s day. Comparably he is more lovely and temperate than a summer’s day. The sun, the eye of heaven, during the summer is sometimes too hot or too dim. Rough winds distract the darling buds of May. And the summer is short-lived and subject to change. Unlike the summer whose beauty is not permanent, the youth’s beauty is eternal that would never fade away in course of time. Nor shall ‘Death brag you wander’st in his shade‘.
The speaker says that the young man (his beauty or the description of his beauty) will live on this earth as long as the readers read thi(e)s(e) sonnet(s). The youth’s beauty is immortalized in his lasting verses, so his beauty will never fade. His beauty will live ‘so long as men can breathe or eyes can see‘. As long as the people live on the earth and read his verses, his beauty will live forever, so are his verses.
The main themes in Sonnet 18 are the eternal love and immortality of beauty, timelessness of art and changeability of nature’s beauty. A summer’s day is a lovely thing, but it (its beauty) is subject to change. Similarly the youth is beautiful, but his beauty is subject to change in course of time. His beauty is changeable and immortal at the same time because his beauty is immortalized in verses by the poet.
At least two significant poetic devices used in the Sonnet 18: conceit and personification. Poetic techniques or devices are literary devices used in poetry to enhance the intensity of feeling, to create rhythm and in particular to beautify the verses. Sonnet 18 of Shakespeare Sonnet 18 of Shakespeare
As a literary device, extended metaphor is an extended version of metaphor that extends at length to multiple lines or stanzas in a poem or any literary piece. It is also known as sustained metaphor or conceit. In this sonnet, Shakespeare compares his beloved to a summer’s day throughout the poem: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? …thy eternal summer shall not fade.
Personification is a literary device that refers to the attribution of human characteristics to non-living or inanimate objects. Death is personified in this sonnet, death can’t take away his beauty, the poet says: Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade. Sonnet 18 of Shakespeare Sonnet 18 of Shakespeare
THE 1609 QUARTO VERSION 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 vntrim’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 eternall 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.