Sonnet 18: Shall i Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?

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 (A). Initial thoughts about the work.

This is the most fascinating poem written by Shakespeare so far because it focuses on the beauty of a friend with whom the poet wishes to remain forever in his memory. The friend is metamorphosed into a season of the year (summer) to show the profound joy and beauty he finds in such friendship which is purported held, dear.  William Shakespeare hopes that the memory he hopes to build out of this friendship should forever remain in his mind just the same way as those who die to leave fond memories in our lives. I think the most interesting part about this poetry is the ability of the composer to perfectly compare the aspects of nature and humanity. According to Bently, Davis, & Ginsburg (2010), it is thought that throughout the poem, he humanizes nature and naturalizes the humane qualities of his friend. What a masterpiece! This is the reason why Sonnet 18 is a fascinating work done by Shakespeare due to the implied ability to compare two contrasting aspects of life.

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(B) Analysis of the Work

The poet perfectly implied that as long as people will live in this world, this sonnet would forever remain in their minds. This was words written way back in the 16th century when the poem was first written; a period when civilization was rocking the entire Europe. Fortunately, the poem has lived way beyond the intended period and is still a 21st century darling of many literature enthusiasts. That as the patterns of the weather change year in year out, the aspect of beauty brought about by these changes still lingers in the minds and souls of many beings across the world. This is exactly what Shakespeare intended to pass across in his coded poem. Some of the insights that can be learned from the author of the poem are the aspects of resilience and creativity, largely contributed by the poet’s life as a dramatist, actor and writer. For instance, Shakespeare is described by his contemporaries as charming, honest, open minded and gentle. These qualities must have contributed to his perceived creativity to use his contemporaries as subjects of discussion in many of his poems. For instance, the choice of the title of Sonnet 18 must have been from the perception of his friends and critics alike with whom the poet had the desire to use them to deliver his message to his audience. William Shakespeare was and is still known to be the most talented literature guru who created a world of imagination from the ordinary using relatively coded language. The comparison of gold to summer shows the extent to which highly precious aspects can with time change in form and importance; just like the weather patterns change every time. The ravages of time still dominate the message in the poem especially in line 7 where he presupossedly talks about the dimming of everything that is always good (Kirchmayer, 2014). That in as much as outside beauty may or is praised among the population, it comes a time when such fades; but the beauty that remains in the minds and souls of individuals is compared to that of the lord who never ‘fades’.

The historical setting of the poem dates back to the 16th century a time when the poet was born. Given his lifeline, the sonnet came at a time when the author was at the peak of his literary life in what later came to be known as renaissance. Key among the attributes of this age include the high need for individuals to learn and discover knowledge by relating it to their daily affairs. The aspects of literature and philosophy were gaining momentum at this stage and science was also a phenomenon to reckon with. Literature enthusiasts such as Shakespeare could not let go off their creativity especially given the fact that they led lives that were characterized by actions and drama. The poet also describes summer as being accompanied by lots of disappointments in line 3 where he talks of the ‘rough wind which seemingly is unwelcomed and in line 5 where he talks of the summer sun which is extremely hot. But these imperfections of the summer season have a clear contrast with the dimming goodness of his dear friend whom he describes to be very template. The poet has as well clearly indicated that the beauty of his dear friend whom he describes as the lord shall not fade. He believes that history shall write itself and his friend will remain to be the same as time passes. The poet is also hopeful that so long as the human generation prevails, his poetry shall live forever and never fade.

The poet has used several themes and stylistic devices to help bring out an artistic representation of the general text. The speaker in Sonnet 18 focuses on fate and death of a beauty. He, however, comes up with a poem within which he strongly believes that shall not see the end of such beauty. He, therefore, steps in and artistically represents the ‘lord’ his beloved friend whom he can save from ravages of time by simply writing this poem. ‘Time’ in this context provides the intersection of the literature and the writing hence the theme. Man in the natural world cannot avoid being challenged with time but the poet believes that he can help him curb such a problem. The use of anaphora (repetition of the opening words) helps create a rhythm in the poem hence making it interesting and pleasant to its readers. The sonnet 18 writer also creates an image of his beloved friend by using a perfect being ‘the lord’. This brings out the imagery as a stylistic device used in the poem. Burgess (2013), in his critique, asserts that the stability of love and its power to immortalize things is a theme that is widely felt across the poem. In today’s audience, the poem is still relevant as it explores the social aspect of human beings and impact of love for others. The virtue of love for others should not be compared to the gold complexion that fades off with time. I think the poet meant that love should be eternal regardless of changing ‘seasons’ in an individual’s life. As long as we can breathe, we should reflect the true aspects of love and affection towards others.

(C). How knowledge gained influenced my thinking of the poem

Having known what the poem is all about, I became fully aware of the magnitude each phrase carries in the entire poem. I came to understand that the sonnet is a thriller having compared it with the most of the sonnets written by Shakespeare. A careful literature mind will be able to produce correlations between it and the real world despite wide use of metaphorical language. My feeling beforehand was that this was relatively a hard linguistic masterpiece; that one required to be a poetic guru to fully comprehend the message therein. Nevertheless, after an informed scrutiny, I late realized that this was indeed one of Shakespeare ‘easiest to understand’ sonnet since he presents his main ideas through metaphors.

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Sonnet 18: Shall I Compare Thee to A Summer’s Day?. (2019, Oct 10). Retrieved February 1, 2023 , from

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