Sonnet No. 18 ( Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day ?) – William Shakespeare : Line by Line Word Notes and Explanations

 Line Number 1 :

Thee ( old English use ) means ‘You’ . Here ‘thee’ refers to Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, Shakespeare’s friend.

Here the poet has compared his friend with that of the summer’s day and its beauty. The poem started with a question and the answer of the question is no because his friend is more beautiful than the beauty of a Summer’s day.

Line Number 2 :

Thou (old English use ) means ‘You’. Here ‘Thou’ refers to poet’s friend Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. Art is an old English use, means auxiliary verb ‘ARE’.

Here in this line Shakespeare has confirmed that the beauty of his friend is more adorable than the beauty of of the summer. His friend is more lovely and more temperate.

Line Number 3 :

Rough wind means stormy winds. It shakes the darling buds in the mouth of May.

Here Shakespeare has given another comparison between the Supremacy of his friend’s beauty and the objects of nature.

Line Number 4 :

“Summer Lease” – means summer has offered. Or, summer lends.

Actually the presence of the summer has been referred to you as summer lease.

Line Number 5 :

“Eye of heaven” means the Sun.

Line Number 6 :

Complexion means skin color.

Gold complexion refers to the sun rays.

Line Number 7 :

“Fair from Fair” – First ‘fair’ means the beautiful thing in the world. Second ‘fair’ means the concept of beautiful thing.

This phrase means every beautiful thing in the world lost its standard beauty at a time.

Line Number 8 :

Nature Changing Course – the law of nature.

Nature is always changing with times. The poet things that nature may change its beauty and course but his friends beauty is unchangeable and eternal.

Line Number 9 :

Thy ( old English use) means ‘Your’. Here ‘Thy’ refers to poet’s friend Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey.

Eternal Summer – means eternal / immortal youth .

Line Number 10 :

Possession means resource.

Here possession refers to fair youth.

The poet is assuring that his friend’s beauty will never be perished.

Line Number 11 :

In this line, the poet says that his friend must die physically but in the world of poetry he will never die. His friend will live forever untouched by death.

Actually William Shakespeare is dealing with the theme of time and he has gone against the destructive power of time where he reserves the beauty of his friend in this poem.

Line Number 12 :

Eternal Lines – means the line of this sonnet.

Shakespeare is very prophetic, he transcends the quality of art against the ravages of time to reserve his friend beauty beyond time.

Line Number 13 :

The final quatrain of the sonnet tells how the beloved differs from the summer in that respect:

》 his beauty will last forever (“Thy eternal summer shall not fade…”) and never die. In the couplet, the speaker explains how the beloved’s beauty will accomplish this feat, and not perish because it is preserved in the poem, which will last forever(“So long as men can breath or eyes can see”).

Line Number 14 :

The poet claims, his poetry (“this”) will prevail and will afford immortality to the young man (“this gives life to thee”).

》‘this‘ refers to the sonnet no. 18.

》’Thee‘ refers to poet’s friend whose beauty is immortalized.

》As long as the world exists, this verse will give life to his friend’s exceptional beauty.

Although he may literally and physically die, the poem will “give life to” him for as long as people are still living to read it.

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