Question: How does Shakespeare immortalize the beauty of his friend in his poem ‘Shall I compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is the greatest playwright and poet of the Elizabethan Period. He has written 154 sonnets serially which is called his sonnet sequence. “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day” is the eighteen- number sonnet of his sonnet sequence. In this poem, the poet has immortalized his friend’s beauty and youth.
Declaration of extreme beauty
The poem opens with a rhetorical question that the speaker of the poem is confused about Whether he compares the beauty of his friend to a summer’s day or not. He is reluctant to compare the beauty of the young man with the summer’s day and tells us that his friend is more beautiful and softer than the beauty of summer.
“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate;”
More Notes of Poetry
To intensify the beauty of his friend, the poet points out sundry faults of summer. Summer has the rough winds that shake the darling buds of spring. Besides, the duration of summer is very short which means that summer is lasted only for three months from June to August in England. The sunshine of summer is too hot that is another fault of summer. On a summer’s day, there is an image of light and shadow. By using synecdoche, the poet has declared that change is the law of nature and every object of nature is subject to decay.
“And every fair from fair sometimes declines”
In the sestet of the poem, the poet declares that his friend has possessed ever lasted or eternal beauty. The beauty that has been possessed by his friend will not fade away. It is a must that every human being must die today or tomorrow but even death cannot take away the beauty of the youth that is why the eternal beauty and youth of his friend has been immortalized in the eternal lines of the poem.
“So long as man can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee”
In termination, it can be said that no human beauty is eternal but it can be made immortal by the power of creative genius. William Shakespeare has done this by writing the very sonnet. He is unique at all in the history of English Literature as a sonneteer.