What is the style, technique, and language of "Sonnet 18"?

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William Shakespeare's "Sonnet 18" is an English or Elizabethan sonnet; as such, it is written in iambic pentameter and contains fourteen lines comprised of three quatrains with a rhymed couplet at the end. The rhyme scheme is abab cdcd efef gg.

Techniques in the poem include:

  • A rhetorical question - "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" 
  • Metaphors - In comparing the poem's subject, thought to be a youth, to a summer's day, the narrator finds him "more lovely and temperate"; he also likens his youth to an "eternal summer" and says that he will achieve immortality through his poem's "eternal lines."
  • Personification - The sun is described in human terms. It has an "eye" and a "gold complexion."

Shakespeare's language is largely figurative in the sonnet; moreover, it is Early Modern English, which succeeded Middle English in the fifteenth century.