/shall I / compare / thee to / a sum/mer’s day? /
Summary of poem
Praising highly his beloved (Earl of Hembrooks). He compares the beloved to a summer’s day. Even the summer’s day is considered less lovely and less constant as the beloved.
The sun is sometimes too hot in summer, or occasionally clouded over. Every beautiful thing becomes less beautiful through accident or the passing of time.
This is a transition from the first two Quatrains leading to the conclusion in the couplet. He claims that the beloved’s beauty will not fade or die because of the poem.
The poem will be read as long as man lives and therefore the beloved will live on.
The different levels of meaning in Sonnet 18
The core of the message in the poem
Natural beauty can never surpass his beloved’s beauty captured in the poem.
Tone of the poem
1. Romantic - A very personal address to his beloved and telling his beloved his love.
2. Light and carefree – The choice of a summer’s day. Why? Season of holidays and rejoicing of things coming alive.
3. Happy – Celebrating his love.
4. Search for perfection – Attempting to find a way to overcome the shortcomings of Nature’s beauty.
5. Spiritual quest – To go beyond death, to reach a state of immortality. To preserve his love’s beauty.
6. Confident – He is confident that his poem will be read and enjoyed through time.
Point of view
The poem is written in the first person pronoun.
He appreciates his beloved.
He talks of the immortality of his poem.
Poetic devices used
It is to describe something by giving it human qualities. For example,
“…his gold complexion dimm’d” — the sun is like a man with golden skin
It is to describe something as if it is something else. For example,
“…eye of heaven shines” – the sun has become an eye of heaven