Comment on Sonnet 18
Sonnet 18 is Shakespeare’s best known poem in all of his 154 sonnets. It is a typical Shakespearean sonnet which consists of three four-lined stanzas followed by a couplet, and has the characteristic rhyme scheme: abab cdcd efef gg. This sonnet aims at praising the eternal power of man by describing the instability of the nature.
First, the poet compares his friend as “a summer’s day”, and then he says his
friend is “more lovely and more temperate” than the summer. He lists a lot of negative
images to show the instability of the summer. It is short---“summer’s lease hath all too
short a date,” and sometimes the sun is too hot---“Sometime too hot the eye of heaven
shines.” The poet also uses internal rhythm to speed up the rhythm of this poem, such as in line 7, “And every fair from fair sometime declines.” Here, “fair” means beauty.
It means the beauty of summer is fading very soon. While his friend’s beauty “shall
not fade” nor “lose possession of that fair thou ow’st.” Even Death can not take him
away. In the poet’s opinion, the summer which refers to the nature is always changing, but his friend’s personality will last forever.
In conclusion, the poet compares his friend to summer, and then by describing the instability of summer to show his friend’s immortality. His purpose is to tell us
that the power of beauty comes from man. Connecting the background, the poet is praising the spirit of Renaissance---Humanism.
; Sonnet 18 “paraphrase”