How to write a sonnet into prose?I've got to rewrite Sonnet 18: "Shall I compare thee to a Summer's day?" I'm having a difficult time figuring it out. Does anyone have any ideas that...

How to write a sonnet into prose?

I've got to rewrite Sonnet 18: "Shall I compare thee to a Summer's day?" I'm having a difficult time figuring it out. Does anyone have any ideas that might help me?

Asked on by cyrawhite

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amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Every sonnet has three major qualities:  There is a problem or question posed, there is the "turn" or "big BUT", and there is the solution or answer.

The first 8-12 lines usually houses the problem/question.  There is a transition or change in mood/tone which indicates the BUT, and the last lines incorporate the solution/answer.

In sonnet 18,

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 dimmed,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed:

is the question/problem.  I will compare you to a summer's day. You are lovelier more even tempered.  Summer is too unpredictable--rough winds, hot sun, and it is too short (only 3 months).  The sun is dimmed, and beauty for beauty's sake doesn't always is either by accident or time taken away.

BUT (here's the big 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.

your beauty will never fade--you will not lose it no matter what (death, time, accident) because time will hold your beauty in these lines and as long as men read it, you live.

sagetrieb's profile pic

sagetrieb | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

Do you want to write this narrative in the third person or the first? What is the tone in which the speaker says her words (tone is the attitude of the speaker to her subject matter)? Or, if you are converting it into simply prose, do you mean you want to write a paraphrase, which means to reword it so that you translate figurative language into literal, everyday language. Here is an example of paraphrasing the poem: "The speaker wants to tell the person he loves how strong his feelings are for his beloved, but he isn't sure he can find the words to do this. As a result, he wonders if he could express his deep love if he tells his friend she/he reminds him of a beautiful day in the summer for during the summer the air is warm and sweet, which is how he makes him feel. But no, his friend is even more wonderful than that....." Continue through the poem in this way.

bmadnick's profile pic

bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

You must first understand the poem in order to translate it into everyday language. Read the poem several times and write down any words or phrases that you don't understand. Try to analyze the poem by asking some key questions:

Who is the subject of the poem?
Who is the speaker?
What types of figurative language is in the poem?

In the first line of the sonnet, the speaker rhetorically asks if she can compare the young man she loves to a summer day. Stop and consider what a summer day is like. How can a person be like a summer day?

If you go through each line of the poem like this, you'll gain understanding of the poem, and it will be easy for you to then rewrite it. For a fuller explanation of the poem, go to the site below.

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