A very little is known about Shakespeare’s early life. Born on 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon to a middle-class merchant family Shakespeare is also called as the Bard of Avon. He married at the age of eighteen years and became father of three children. He moved to London and started as a an actor and later became a successful playwright as well.
Shakespeare’s writing developed and evolved throughout his career. Scholars often divide his work into periods based on different aspects of his writing style.
Shakespeare startes his literary career by writing Sonnets. The sonnets are constructed of fourteen lines, divided into three groups of four lines, called quatrains, and a final group of two lines called a couplet. Usually the mood of the sonnet changes in the third quatrain as the writer expresses a realization or sudden insight.
All of the sonnets are written in iambic pentameter and the final word in each line follows an abab cdcd efef gg rhyming scheme. To this day, any poem written in this pattern is known as a Shakespearean sonnet.
SONNET 18 – SHALL I COMPARE THEE TO A SUMMER’S DAY?
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 dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
The opening line poses a simple question which the rest of the sonnet answers. The poet compares his loved one to a summer’s day and finds him to be “more lovely and more temperate.”
The poet discovers that love and the man’s beauty are more permanent than a summer’s day because summer is tainted by occasional winds and the eventual change of season.
What is Unique about this Sonnet:
Surprisingly, the subject to whom the sonnet is addressed is traditionally not a woman, but a man?