“Shall I compare thee to a SUMMER’S day?” asks the speaker in one of Shakespeare’s most famous sonnets. Well, he goes on to say, it won’t be fair to the beloved, because “rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, / And SUMMER’S lease hath all too short a date.” No, the sun must decline from midsummer day, and time does its inevitable work upon us all. Instead, he says, “thy eternal SUMMER shall not fade,” and not because the beloved will remain fixed in youth, but because the poet has written a poem about him: “So long as men do live, and eyes can see, / So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”
It’s hard to take the speaker seriously, though, because the beloved isn’t named, there’s almost no description of his person, and as for his character, he is portrayed as proud, shallow, ungrateful, and duplicitous. You wouldn’t want people to remember you that way!
Here’s not the place for me to discuss what Shakespeare the author – not the speaker in the sonnet…
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial