Shakespeare Sonnet 18, Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Shakespeare Sonnet 18 Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

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This is a short summary of Shakespeare sonnet 18. It is one of the most famous sonnets by Shakespeare. Continue reading for complete analysis and meaning in the modern text. For the complete list of 154 sonnets, check the collection of Shakespeare Sonnets with analysis.
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.

Shakespeare Sonnet 18 Analysis

In sonnet 18 Shakespeare begins with the most famous line comparing the youth to a beautiful summer’s day “shall I compare thee to a summer’s day “where the temperature and weather is perfect, “thou art more lovely and more temperate”.

He then goes on to compare how age destroys the beauty of the youth to rough winds that break and destroy the beautiful flowers of summer “Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May” saying that such youthful moments like the summertime never last and are temporary. “summer’s lease hath all too short a date:” Just like summer fades to winter so does age ultimately take away our youth.

He compares life and the beauty of youth to the changing weather describing how the sun may shine strongly one moment “too hot the eye of heaven shines” and then in the next it is dimmed by clouds, his gold complexion dimm’d;” similarly a youths life is subjected to such moments where he is beautiful with the radiance of youth but age then changes his complexion making him look dull

He compares the course of life to the course of nature where nature makes the summer change to dull winter, in the same way all beautiful things “every fair from fair sometime declines” such as mans beauty is lost either by chance or by the natural course of ageing which cannot be prevented “nature’s changing course untrimm’d;”

He then tells the youth that his life will never be lost and he will remain living like an everlasting summer “thy eternal summer shall not fade” neither will his beauty fade like summer fades to winter “lose possession of that fair thou owest;”

He reassures the youth that even death will not be able to claim him for his own and boast about it “nor shall Death brag” because he the poet will immortalize the youth’s life and name through his poetry making it last for eternity “When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;”

He says as long as men exist on earth “so long as men can breathe” and have eyes to read “or eyes can see”, they will be reading this poem which will live on “So long lives this” and in this way the youths name and his beauty will live on forever “and this gives life to thee”.

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