Shakespeare's Sonnets Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

Shakespeare's Sonnets book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Why is Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 so famous?

Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 is so famous, in part, because it addresses a very human fear: that someday we will die and likely be forgotten. The speaker of the poem insists that the beauty of his beloved will never truly die because he has immortalized her in text. He has declared her to be more beautiful than one of the most beautiful things, a summer day. But she will be constant, eternal, and it cannot be.

Expert Answers info

Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)


calendarEducator since 2016

write7,255 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

Most sonnets are love poems; at least, we can say this about Shakespearean sonnets. So there must be something particular about this sonnet that makes it so memorable. Perhaps it is something about the fact that it was designed to be memorable: being memorable is actually its point.

In it, the speaker professes that, though "nature's changing course" means that beauty fades, the beauty of his beloved never will, because he has preserved it with his immortal words. She enjoys an "eternal summer" that will never fade, unlike the actual season of summer, the beauties of which will always fade to fall and then winter. The speaker tells her that "death" will never "brag" that she wanders "in his shade," personifying death but asserting that the speaker's own words will allow the beloved's beauty to enjoy an eternity free from death, as long as "men can breathe." She will possess a kind of life long after her body is gone, because of this little poem. It's a pretty powerful sentiment, is it not?

(The entire section contains 5 answers and 840 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Maud Scarbrough eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write652 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Suman Chakraborty eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Professor


calendarEducator since 2008

write63 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and Science

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

amy-lepore eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2005

write3,513 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

podunc eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2007

write284 answers

starTop subject is Literature

check Approved by eNotes Editorial