William Shakespeares Sonnet 18 is one of one hundred fifty four poems offourteen lines written in Iambic Pentameter. These sonnets exclusively employthe rhyme scheme, which has come to be called the Shakespearean Sonnet. Thesonnets are composed of an octet and sestet and typically progress through threequatrains to a concluding couplet. It also contains figurative language anddifferent poetic devices used to create unique effects in his sonnets.
Shakespeares sonnets consist of words constructed in a certain manner orform, thoughts, emotion and poetic devices. One way to interpret the sonnet isto think of thee that Shakespeare is referring to as a person. Followingthat line of thought the sonnet could read that Shakespeare is in love withsomeone who is consistently beautiful. He tries to compare this person to summerbut summer is not as beautiful or constant. This person in Shakespeares eyeswill never grow old and ugly and not even Death can say that his persons endis near.
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In line 1, he starts the poem with a question. He asks if he shouldcompare the person to a summers day but ends up not doing so realizing thatthe person is superior. In the following 7 lines of this sonnet, he begins toshow the differences between the person and a summers day. He explains thatthe persons characteristics is moderate and comfortable and has favorablequalities in line 2. Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, (line3) means that the rough winds of the summer can destroy the buds of the flowersand his particular person has no such trait.
In the forth line of the sonnet,Shakespeare justifies how summer is too short and how his lovers beauty doesnot end like this specific season does. In the next two lines, lines 5 and 6,the superb poet interpret the summers temperature. He explains how the summercan be extremely hot and uncomfortable.
He also describes how the sun can bedulled due to the covering of clouds. It can obscure or shadow the earth, unlikethe shining beauty of his lover. Although Sonnet 18 is an extended metaphor,line 7 has a literal meaning that explains itself: And every fair from fairsometime declines, With fair meaning beautiful, he is saying that everythingthat is beautiful must come to an end and that all beauty fades except the oneof his lover.
The next line is an example of the reasons why beauty fades.Chance makes beauty fade by something dreadful happening. He says that natureschanging course untrimmed meaning that the seasons changing direction, path ortime can deteriorate beauty. In line 8, the turning point of the sonnet,Shakespeare specifies that something is changing by using the simple word But.
He goes on to explain that the persons beauty will not die. He itemizeseternal to mean that the persons charm will live forever. You are not goingto lose possession of that beauty that you own, Shakespeare explains in line 10.In the eleventh line of the sonnet, he says that Death wont be able to bragthat he has possession of the persons beauty. In other words, the beloved willnever die. At the end of the sonnet, he writes about eternal lines whichsymbolizes that the beloveds beauty will grow in this poem forever. In thelast two lines of this poem, lines 13 and 14, the poet means that as long aspeople read this poem, that the beloveds beauty will live.
He also describeshow the person will live in the spirit and beauty of the poem. It could alsorepresent the poem itself, which keeps the person beautiful forever. This sonnethas a basic form or structure. In this sonnet there are fourteen lines dividedinto two clear parts, an opening octet which has 8 lines and a closing sestetwhich has 6 lines with a fixed rhyme scheme: ababcdcdefefgg. The octave presentsthe narrative, states the proposition or raises a question. The sestet driveshome the narrative by making an abstract comment, applies the proposition, orsolves the problem. In Sonnet 18 the octave says that the beloved is better thana summers day.
It develops the idea of this sonnet. The sestet then explains whythe beloved is better than a summers day. The sestet also states that thelover will live forever.
Instead of the octave and sestet divisions, this sonnetcharacteristically embodies four divisions. Three quatrains of four lines eachwith a rhyme scheme of its own, and a rhymed couplet. In this case, the rhymescheme of the quatrains is: abab cdcd efef gg. The couplet at the end is usuallya commentary on the foregoing. Some types of poetic devices that are frequentlyused in this love poem are meter, rhyme, assonance, consonance, repetition, end& internal rhyme and alliteration.
Meter is a sort of up down bouncy balltype of sound that goes along with the line of poetry. It has accents andunaccented syllables. Alliteration works by repeating one or more letters at thebeginning of a word throughout a line. Some examples of alliteration (shown initalics in the sonnet above) in this sonnet is spread out in all fourteen lines.Words like shall summers, thee to, thou temperate, art and, more more, dodarling, and all a, summers short, sometime shines, too the, hot heaven, fairfrom fair, summer shall and time thou are all examples of alliteration.
Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds. Examples of assonance (shown inbold in the sonnet above) are spread throughout sonnet 18. Words such as comparesummers, rough buds, sometime declines, in his, thou growst, breathe see andlives his gives are all assonance.
Consonance, which means that the finalconsonants agree, is also used in this specific sonnet. Some consonance examples(shown underlined in the sonnet above) are compare more, winds buds, is his,fair fair, eternal shall, that owst, when in, men can, and lives this thisare some good examples of consonance. We also have end rhyme used in thisShakespearean sonnet such as day may, temperate date, shines declines, dimmeduntrimmed, fade shade, owst growst, and see thee (shown in a script fontin the sonnet above). Internal rhymes are also used such as: Lines 1 and 2, theeand lovely. We also have lines 3 and 4, do and too.
Another example of aninternal rhyme is heaven and complexion and is his from lines 5 and 6.Repetition is very common in this sonnet. In line 2 we have more and more, inlines 4 and 5 he also shows too and too. In lines 6 and 7 and and & fairfair.
Towards the end of the sonnet, lines 10,11 and 12 show nor nor and thouthou. The rhymed couplet has three repetitions which are so long, so long, can,can and this, this. Although William Shakespeares Sonnet 18 is an extendedmetaphor, there are other examples of figurative language throughout the poem.In this sonnet, we have figurative language such as metaphor, conceit,personification, antithesis, synecdoche or they just remain self explanatory(literal).
The conceit, controlling idea, of this poem is in line one when Theeis being compared to a summers day, which is also a metaphor. Antithesis isshown in line 14 when Shakespeare says So long lives this, and this giveslife to thee. This is the balancing of contrasting terms.
An example ofsynecdoche is in line 12 when lines is referred to as the whole poem.Examples of personification are seen in lines 3, 4, 5, 6, 11 and 14. In thethird line, Shakespeare says darling buds giving human attributes to aflower. In line 4, summer is given a life like quality to rent or to lease.
Thesun in line 5 is referred to as the eye of heaven. The sun is being compared toa face having a gold complexion in line 6. In line 11 Death is being compared toa braggart giving Death a human quality.
In the last line of this sonnet, thepoem itself is being compared to a living thing. Although all the lines justmentioned are examples of personification, they are all metaphors as well. Lines7 and 13 have both literal meanings. These two lines are self-explanatory andmean what they say. The remaining lines 2, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 12 and 13 are allmetaphors because throughout those lines, the beloveds beauty is beingcompared to the summer.
Iambic Pentameter is essentially the meter or the basicrhythm of Shakespeares sonnets. Love is an intangible thing, and emotion, itcan have no real definition, because it can mean so many things depending on thesituation. I enjoyed this sonnet because Shakespeare had the ability to show hispoetic skills in appropriating metaphors and conceits in clever ways, so thatthe poem becomes, not just a tribute to the beloved but also a testament to hisgreat skill as a poet.Poetry