It is mainly due to thesimplicity and loveliness of the poem’s praise of the beloved woman that it has guaranteed its place in mymind, and heart. The speaker of the poem opens with a question that is addressed to the beloved, Shall Icompare thee to a summer’s day? This question is comparing her to the summer time of the year. It isduring this time when the flowers are blooming, trees are full of leaves, the weather is warm, and it isgenerally thought of as an enjoyable time during the year. The following eleven lines in the poem are alsodedicated to similar comparisons between the beloved and summer days.
In lines 2 and 3, the speakerexplains what mainly separates the young woman from the summer’s day: she is more lovely and moretemperate. (Line 2) Summer’s days tend toward extremes: they are sometimes shaken by rough winds(line3) which happens and is not always as welcoming as the woman. However in line 4, the speakergives the feeling again that the summer months are often to short by saying, And summer’s lease hathtoo short a date. In the summer days, the sun, the eye of heaven (line 5), often shines too hot, or toodim, his gold complexion dimmed (line 6), that is there are many hot days during the summer but soonthe sun begins to set earlier at night because autumn is approaching. Summer is moving along tooquickly for the speaker, its time here needs to be longer, and it also means that the chilling of autumn iscoming upon us because the flowers will soon be withering, as every fair from fair sometime declines. (Line 7) The final portion of the sonnet tells how the beloved differs from the summer in various respects.
Her beauty will be one that lasts forever, Thy eternal summer shall not fade. (Line 9), and never end ordie. In the couplet at the bottom, the speaker explains how that the beloved’s beauty will accomplish thiseverlasting life unlike a summer. And it is because her beauty is kept alive in this poem, which will lastforever.
It will live as long as men can breathe or eyes can see. (Line 13)On the surface, the poem is onthe surface simply a statement of praise about the beauty of the beloved woman and perhaps summer tothe speaker is sometimes too unpleasant with the extremes of windiness and heat that go along with it. However, the beloved in the poem is always mild and temperate by her nature and nothing at all like thesummer. It is incidentally brought to life as being described as the eye of heaven with its goldcomplexion.
The imagery throughout the sonnet is simple and attainable to the reader, which is a keyfactor in understanding the poem. Then the speaker begins to describe the summer again with the darlingbuds of May giving way to the summer’s lease, springtime moving into the warmth of the summer. The speaker then starts to promise to talk about this beloved, that is so great and awing that she is to liveforever in this sonnet. The beloved is so great that the speaker will even go as far as to say that, So longas men breathe, or eyes can see, the woman will live. The language is almost too simple when comparingit to the rest of Shakespeare’s sonnets; it is not heavy with alliteration or verse, and nearly every line is itsown self-contained clause, almost every line ends with some punctuation that effects a pause.
But it is thisthat makes Sonnet18 stand out for the rest in the book. It is much more attainable to understand and itallows for the reader to fully understand how great this beloved truly is because she may live forever in it. An important theme of the sonnet, as it is an important theme throughout much of the poetry in general,is the power of the speaker’s poem to defy time and last forever. And so by doing this it is then carryingthe beauty of the beloved down to future generations and eventually for al of eternity. The beloved’seternal summer shall not fade precisely because it is embodied in the sonnet: So long as men canbreathe or eyes can see, (line 13) the speaker writes in the couplet, So long lives this, and this gives lifeto thee. (Line 14) With this the speaker is able to accomplish what many have done in poetry and that isto give the gift of an eternal life to someone that they believe is special and outshines everyone else aroundthem.
Perhaps it is because of a physical beauty that the speaker see, but I believe that it is more becauseof the internal beauty as seen in line 2, Thou art more lovely and more temperate, that the beloved isdeserving to live on forever.