I have found so many different interpretation of Sonnet 18, I have to compare it to Spenser's Sonnet 75 and I am confused, please help.I have found so many different interpretation of Sonnet 18, I...

I have found so many different interpretation of Sonnet 18, I have to compare it to Spenser's Sonnet 75 and I am confused, please help.

I have found so many different interpretation of Sonnet 18, I have to compare it to Spensers Sonnet 75 and I understand Spensers' sonnet more I see similarity in the fact that both are written to stabilize immortality. But Spencers addresses his wife and his love for her. While I think Shakspeare is more addressing the eternity of staying young at heart as he realizes he is too old to bare children. Instead of staying immortal through living through offspring, he and his love, instead will live through his poetry. Is this correct?

Asked on by bflerlage

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amy-lepore's profile pic

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

Posted on

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. –William Shakespeare

The poem basically states that his love is more beautiful than a summer's day because not only is she lovely, but she is more even-tempered and more predictable...he can count on her to act and react in similar situations the same way every time.  Because of this, his love will never die, and their love will last longer than summer's short period of time (3-4 months).  It will not burn out like the hot summer's sun, and the golden attraction is real between them, not just some facade to be discovered too late.  She will never die (and Death will not brag of taking her) because she will live forever in his heart and in the lines of this poem for all to read and see-- as long as the poem survives, so does their love.             

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lit24's profile pic

lit24 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

The theme of  both the Sonnets  is similar, both the poets wish to immortalize  the names of their beloved in their sonnets.

The identity of Shakespeare's lover, the person to whom his sonnet is addressed is yet to be established with certainty. Spenser's sonnet is addressed to his wife Elizabeth Boyle whom he married on June 11th 1594.

Shakespeare's sonnet is a direct address to his lover, whereas Spenser's sonnet is in the form of a conversation with his wife.

Shakespeare compares his lover with only one object,"summer's day" and lists out the negative aspects of  summer season and concludes that his lover who is a personification of all the positive qualities of "eternal summer shall not fade."  Spenser, on the other hand, does not compare Elizabeth Boyle to any object. After the waves have washed away her name, he tells her how he intends to immortalize her and their mutual love in his verse. Hence, Shakespeare's sonnet is denser because it is packed with more images-word pictures which stimulate our imagination.

Shakespeare's sonnet has the rhyme scheme: ababcdcdefef gg whereas Spenser's sonnet has the rhyme scheme: ababbcbccdcd ee. The number of rhymes in Spenser's sonnet  is lesser than the number or rhymes in Shakespeare's sonnet and unlike the quatrains in Shakespeare's the two quatrains in Spenser's sonnet are 'linked'- bb and cc. Spenser's sonnet is thus more tightly constructed.

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