What is the point of Shakespeare's Sonnet 18? How does this idea from Shakespeare compare to earlier poetry that you have read?
Perhaps the best known of Shakespeare's sonnets, the point of number 18 is a matter of the reader's opinion. Either it is a panegyric to the constancy of true love and its power to immortalize poetry, or it is an act of self-glorification by the poet. If the former, then the verses are a kind of stairs mounting to the deathless perfection of the beloved. Where in verse 1 the beloved is almost soberly compared to the loveliness of a single summer day, by verse 9 - after wistfully reviewing the transitoriness of earthly beauty in the intervening lines - the poet leaps into a whole new realm of metaphor: The beloved is not just like a summer day - she is summer. She or he - most scholars maintain that sonnets 1 to 126 are addressed to a beautiful young man, despite the use of the feminine pronoun - becomes the standard by which the beautiful in all thought and art is judged. If the latter, then in the view of James Boyd-White in The Desire for Meaning in Law and Literature. Current Legal Problems. Volume 53, p. 142, sonnet 18 hardly qualifies as a love poem at all. In all its lines, there is no mention of the usual physical and moral attributes of the beloved in a conventional sonnet. Instead, it is a fanfaronade in which the poet boasts that his words will live long after the beloved has passed from this world.