Andrew has actually a keen interest in all aspects of poetry and writes extensively on the subject. His poems are published online and in print.

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What Is the meaning of "Shall i compare thee come a summer's day?"

"Sonnet 18" is perhaps the finest known of every one of Shakespeare's 154 sonnets, primarily because of the opening line, "Shall ns compare thee come a summer's day," which every true romantic to know by heart. Yet there is much more to this line 보다 meets the eye, as you'll find out later in this analysis.

William Shakespeare's sonnets space world-renowned and are stated to have actually been written for a "fair youth" (1–126) and also a "dark lady" (127–54), however no one is totally particular for who they to be penned, as they incorporate no identify names and no composed evidence. Shakespeare may have actually been famed in his lifetime, however he was also very great at maintaining secrets.

The sonnets were first published in 1609, 7 years prior to the Bard's death, and their exceptional quality has kept castle in the general public eye ever before since. Your depth and also range collection Shakespeare except all various other sonneteers.

"Sonnet 18" concentrates on the loveliness the a friend or lover, with the speaker originally asking a rhetorical question around comparing their topic to a summer's day. He then goes ~ above to present the pros and cons that the weather, stating both an idyllic English summer's day and the less-welcome dim sun and also rough winds that autumn. In the end, the is insinuated this an extremely piece of city will save the lover—the poem's subject—alive forever and permit them to defy even death.

Sonnet 18

Shall i compare thee come a summer’s day?Thou art an ext lovely and more temperate:Rough winds execute shake the darling sprout of May,And summer’s lease hath every too short a date;Sometime too hot the eye of sky shines,And frequently is his gold complexion dimm'd;And every same from fair sometime declines,By possibility or nature’s an altering course untrimm'd;But your eternal summer shall no fade,Nor lose possession of that fair you ow’st;Nor shall fatality brag she wander’st in his shade,When in eternal lines to time you grow’st:So long as men can breathe or eyes have the right to see, So lengthy lives this, and also this offers life come thee.

Line-by-Line evaluation

"Sonnet 18" is committed to praising a girlfriend or lover, traditionally recognized as the "fair youth." The sonnet chin serves as a guarantee the this person's beauty will be sustained. Even fatality will it is in silenced because the present of the poem will be read by future generations, as soon as speaker/poet and also lover space no more, maintaining their fair picture alive with the power of verse.

Line 1

The opening line is virtually a tease, showing the speaker's hesitation as he attempts to compare his lover to a summer's day. The rhetorical concern is posed for both speaker and reader, and even the metrical stance of this an initial line is open up to conjecture. Is it pure iambic pentameter? This comparison will not be straightforward.

This picture of the perfect English summer's job is then surpassed as the 2nd line reveals the the lover is more lovely and an ext temperate. Lovely is tho quite generally used in England and carries the same an interpretation then as it does now (attractive, nice, beautiful), while temperate, in Shakespeare's time, meant gentle-natured, restrained, moderate and also composed.

Line 2

The second line refers directly to the lover through the use of the second-person pronoun Thou, which is now archaic.

Lines 3–8

As the sonnet progresses, lines 3 through eight concentration on the ups and downs the the weather and also are distanced, taken follow me on a stable iambic rhythm (except because that line five as discussed later).

Summertime in England is a hit-and-miss to work weather-wise. Winds blow, rainclouds gather and before you recognize where girlfriend are, summer has actually come and also gone in a week. The season appears all as well short—that's as true today as it was in Shakespeare's time—and human being tend to moan when it's too hot and also grumble once it's overcast. The speak is arguing that for most people, summer will pass all also quickly, and also they will grow old, together is natural, their beauty fading through the pass of the season.

Lines 9–12

Lines nine v twelve turn the debate for aging top top its head. The speaker says with a fix up assurance the "thy eternal summer shall no fade" and that his lover shall stay fair and also even cheat death and also time by becoming eternal.

Lines 13 and 14

Lines 13 and also 14 reinforce the idea that the speaker's (poet's) poem will guarantee the the lover stays young, the composed word coming to be their breath and an important energy and also ensuring your life continues.


This is a scan the the initial title page of "Shakespeare's Sonnets" (1609).

William Shakespeare, public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Literary Devices

Between repetition, assonance, alliteration and also internal and also end rhyme, reader of "Shall i compare thee to a summer's day?" are definitely treated come a selection of gadgets that produce texture, music, and also interest.

Assonance and Repetition

Note the language of these lines: rough, shake, also short, Sometimes, as well hot, often, dimmed, declines, chance, changing, untrimmed. There are interesting combinations within every line that add to the texture and soundscape: Rough/buds, shake/May, hot/heaven, eye/shines, often/gold/complexion, fair from fair, sometimes/declines, chance/nature/changing, nature/course.


Life is not straightforward passage v time for many (if no all) people. Random occasions can radically transform who we are, and we are all topic to time's effects. In the meantime, the vagaries of the English summer weather are called up again and also again together the speaker attempts come put every little thing into perspective. Finally, the lover's beauty, metaphorically an eternal summer, will certainly be preserved forever in the poet's immortal lines.

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And those last two lines, 13 and 14, room harmony itself. Complying with 12 lines without any punctuated caesura (a stop or break in the distribution of the line), heat 13 has actually a 6/4 caesura, and also the last heat a 4/6. The humble comma sorts out the syntax, leaving whatever in balance and giving life. Perhaps only someone that genius could claim to have such literary powers, strong enough to maintain the beauty, beauty of a lover beyond even death.