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Home / Literature / Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day By Shakespear: An Analysis

Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day By Shakespear: An Analysis

The Poem

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 dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Starting With the Poem

The eighteenth of the 154 sonnets of Shakespeare, “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day” is one of the most loved sonnets that celebrates love and the timelessness of poetry, while addressing a young man, presumably his male friend.

Line-Wise Analysis

Lines 1-2

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:”

The poem ensues with the poet’s fanciful dilemma – whether he should compare his friend to a “summer’s day.” Eventually, he contends that “Thou” is “more lovely” and “more” constant, and thus enlists several other facts so as to justify his conjecture.

Lines 3-4

“Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:”

Accordingly, he puts forward the fact that summer winds are a potential threat to sleeping flower buds “of May” that on blooming enhance the beauty of nature and the season itself does not last long.

Lines 5-8

“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;”

Personifying the sun, he next asserts that even regular natural patterns can have variations; highlighting how at times, the sun, (the eye of heaven), shines brightly while “often” it does not. This idea makes him philosophize that beauty is ultimately destined to fade, either by chance or a gradual passage of time.

Lines 9-12

“But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st

Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st”

But the poet is certain that his friend’s beauty is not subjected to time; his beauty is “eternal” and it cannot also be dragged to the valley of shadows owned by “death.” His poetry, glorifying his friend’s fairness would ascertain that he lives forever.

Lines 13-14

“So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”

The couplet brings a completion to his assertions so far. It says that as long as man lives and reads this poem, his friend with his beauty would automatically remain alive.

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