Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day? by William Shakespeare

Sonnet XVIII: Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?

By William Shakespeare


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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 ow’st;
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st 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.


Two recitations of Sonnet 18, performed by Peter O’Toole and Andrew Cullimore. Which do you prefer? Why?

Here is a musical interpretation of the sonnet:

Sonnet 18 follows the English sonnet form, and is composed of three quatrains followed by a couplet, with the rhyme scheme: abab cdcd efef gg.

Quatrain: A poem or stanza consisting of four lines.
Couplet:  In poetry, a pair of rhyming lines often appearing at the end of a sonnet.

Sonnet XCI.

Some glory in their birth, some in their skill,
Some in their wealth, some in their body’s force,
Some in their garments though new-fangled ill;
Some in their hawks and hounds, some in their horse;
And every humour hath his adjunct pleasure,
Wherein it finds a joy above the rest:
But these particulars are not my measure,
All these I better in one general best.
Thy love is better than high birth to me,
Richer than wealth, prouder than garments’ costs,
Of more delight than hawks and horses be;
And having thee, of all men’s pride I boast:
Wretched in this alone, that thou mayst take
All this away, and me most wretched make.


You may learn more about poetic form here, or read additional sonnets by John Milton and Elizabeth Barret Browning.