Shakespeare's Sonnets Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

Shakespeare's Sonnets book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Can you write an introduction about sonnet 18?

Expert Answers info

Doug Stuva eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write1,750 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

Shakespeare's "Sonnet 18" is predominately about the value and the lasting effects of art as compared to nature.  The lover or object of the speaker's affection isn't the summer day.  The speaker might be tempted to compare his object to a summer day, except that the summer day falls short in the comparison. 

In short, summer days do not last, in multiple ways.  The poet's object will last, because the speaker immortalizes him/her in the poem.  That is what art does--lasts forever.  Nature does not. 

The poem concludes:

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

So long lives this [the poem], and this gives life to thee.

That is what the poem is about.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

lynnebh eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write1,203 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Do you mean Shakespeare's 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 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.


This sonnet is one of Shakespeare's most famous ones because it is pretty easy to understand. It is a metaphor for his love or, as some have suggested, a dear friend. The "love" or "friend" is the summer day. The sonnet points out all the parts of a beautiful summer day that remind him of his love/friend.

The summer day has some negative aspects, however, whereas his love does not. His love "is more beautiful than a summer day" - and he explains why. His love is more temperate; sometimes a summer day can get too hot. Sometimes summer winds "shake" away the beautiful May buds. Finally, unlike the summer day, which has an end, the poet says that his love for his friend will live forever because this love is immortalized by the poet's verse.


There are some cool metaphors: the eye of heaven is the sun. "The eternal lines" are the poet's verse, etc. The sonnet has a rhyme scheme of abab, cdcd, efef, gg - very regular. It is written in iambic pentameter and the couplet at the end sums up the theme, that as long as there are people on earth to read the poem, his love will live on.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

subrataray | Student

The critical view of the sonnets from 1-126 , suggests that they were addressed to the poet's patron-cum friend ,-the earl of South Hampton .In sonnet 18 the poet takes an attempt to immortalize the friend .The introduction of Summer as a foil  to his friend's beauty , speaks of the transitoriness of the external nature .This is applicable even to the poet's physical body .

The inner beauty of the poet's friend is temperate , it is time ridden like the Urn of Keats' poem .The series of comparisons , as rough winds , darling buds of May, lease , etc ,are the antithesis of the permanence of the art that the poet transcends to eternity . Again the poet's conjuncture on the immortality of his own art comes to interplay .