"Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?"

William Shakespeare

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.


Elements of a sonnet

A Sonnet is 14 lines long

The rhyme scheme of a Shakespearean sonnet is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG

The sonnet is written in iambic pentameter:

    1             2            3           4          5 = pentameter

   u    `     u     `       u     `   u  `       u          ` = iambic stress pattern

Shall I/ compare/ thee to/ a sum/mer's  day?

An English sonnet consists of 3 quatrains (4 line stanzas) and a couplet = 14 lines  back


Sonnet organization

1st Quatrain: States a problem or situation  back

2nd quatrain: Complicates the problem or situation back

3rd quatrain: Solves the problem   back

Couplet: Reinforces or the solution, or provides a witty solution that is better than the solution given in the 3rd quatrain   back



rough winds: tactile, auditory  image

darling buds: visual image

eye of heaven shines: visual, tactile image

gold complexion dimm'd: visual, tactile image    back to the poem

eternal summer: visual image

eternal lines to time: visual, auditory images

Images reinforce the problem the speaker has in deciding how he will create the comparison in his poem


Sound devices

By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimm'd: alliteration

And often is his gold complexion dimm'd: assonance         back to the poem

Sound devices help create a positive tone of peacefulness



too hot the eye of heaven shines= the sun

Death brag= Death becomes a person        back to the poem



Art will create immortality        back to the poem