Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day: William Shakespeare - Summary and Critical Analysis

The poet William Shakespeare thinks that his love is incomparable. He can’t compare her to the summer’s days because; she is lovelier and milder than it. In summer the stormy winds weaken the charming rosebuds and the prospect of renewed health or happiness lasts for a very short time. The sun is occasionally very hot and its golden rays are often dim.


William Shakespeare

The beauty of every beautiful thing decreases and is spoiled accidentally or naturally. But the eternal summer or the charm of the poet’s love will never be proud of taking the poet’s friend to its dark kingdom. In fact, death will never enjoy its victory over his friend because the poet’s verse will remain eternal all through the time. His friend may die physically, but her beauty will remain in the poem. As long as the human race remains alive and as long as men can read, this sonnet will live as it is eternal, and thus the poet’s friend will be immortal.

This sonnet claims that the Dark Lady is more beautiful than the summer’s day and is also as immortal as Shakespeare’s sonnet. Thoughts of a literary immortality through the poet's verse inspire this sonnet. Her eternal summer would outlast all summer’s lease in the future. The beauty of the summer’s day with the darling buds of May is not lovelier than her. Eternal lines of verse would make an eternal summer of her beauty denying Death and Time and their power of destruction.

Shakespeare takes heart, expects immortality for his verse, and so immortality for his friend as surviving in it. He will fearlessly express ‘a poet’s rage’. Immortalizing beauty through verse was a commonplace among the Elizabethan sonnet writers. This sonnet is magnificent throughout-from the perfect beauty of the opening quatrain to the sweet and the rush of the triumphant final couplet. The rhythms are varied with the subtlest skill and the majestic line-“But thy eternal summer shall not fade” reverberates like a stroke on a gong.

This sonnet has three quatrains and a couplet. It follows the rhyme scheme abba cdcd efefef and gg. The ideas are developed in the three quatrains and the conclusion is embedded in the couplet. The conclusion is that as long as the human race remains alive and as long as men can read, this sonnet will live, and thus immortalize the woman the poet loves. Shakespeare’s conclusion holds true because art can really immortalize people. Time and death may destroy the persona and her beauty physically, but they can’t destroy her completely. Whenever people read this verse, they certainly remember the poet’s beloved and she is brought to life in the mind of the readers. Time and death can’t wipe out her existence for ever. The rose metaphor is deftly humanized in the phrase ‘darling bud of May’ in this sonnet.

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