we How To Understand Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare ~ Naija Poets
Detailed Background
What experience led to Shakespeare’s creation of this poem? What reality is in Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare? How does the poem’s background and setting reflect our present environment?
William Shakespeare wrote many sonnets during his lifetime and Sonnet 18 is one among the popular which might be as a result of the varying circumstances surrounded the poem. Almost his sonnets held similar subjects such as love, life, death, beauty, etc. 

This could result from the fact that those subjects were very much in vogue among writers and artist of his era considering the poem of Christopher Marlowe “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” also reflected love. Sonnet 18 is a poem directed towards the poet’s heart of love to someone else (a feminine). The works of William Shakespeare sent a vivid message to the readers showing that the poet was a very emotional person. This reminds me of a movie about the poet titled “Shakespeare In Love” where the poet who acted as a playwright in the movie and was seen busy writing a love poem to impress her newly found lover named Viola de Lesseps; the movie “Shakespeare in Love” was released in the year 1998.

Shakespeare married at the age of 18 as recorded by many articles about the poet and his wife name Anne Hathaway who had three children for the poet. To answer the question of what led Shakespeare to writing Sonnet 18, many research has viewed the sonnet as a poem directed to another lover different from the poet’s wife since Shakespeare was a very famous poet of his time and having a secret lover might not totally be a false assumption. What reality is in the message of the poem? The reality in the poem can be linked to the common nature of human attractions which are mostly propelled by outward beauty and material possessions. 

Connotative Explanation
Humans are bound to get attracted to someone’s oblivion and by so doing they seek medium to express their attraction the same way as Shakespeare embraced the use of a sonnet as a means of expression but the words of the poet are considered too far from reality as he highly immortalized his addressed lover. In the present society we live, civilization has brought many better ways of expressing love than the use of sonnet. Nowadays, lovers use television, radio, mobile phone, internet chat, and many more as medium of love expression. Season and time still have effect on lovers till date, many lovers still channel their romance towards summer, winter, not to mention popular festive seasons.

The subject matter in the poem “Shall I Compare Thee to A Summer’s Day” (Sonnet 18) is about the beauty possessed by a lover which the poet considered immortalShakespeare compared the outward appearance of the lady or woman in discuss “to a summer day” as seen in line one of the poem. He mentioned the great qualities of the lady not excluding her flaws via the description of the summer season. Summers are lovely, moderate but sometimes harsh and short live. In the later part of the sonnet, the poet saw beyond those flaws by believing that those sweet attributes of the lady will “not fade/ Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st” (line 10). The poem can be re-narrated as follows: “Lady, your moderate and lovely appearance makes me want to compare you to a summer season. Even though summer season don’t last and the summer sun is sometimes harsh on the body but your own summer possession will not end because you won’t die; you will live through many generations as long as the earth exist”.

The dominant poetic device in the poem is metaphor where the whole subject of love, beauty and death are compared to a summer season. It will not be quite wrong to say that summer in the poem is a symbolism broadened with the use of metaphor. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” in line 1, the attribute of the summer extended through the poem from where the summer is “more lovely and more temperate” in line 2 down to where the summer qualities of the lady will overcome death.

Structurally, the poem “Shall I Compare Thee to A Summer’s Day” by William Shakespeare is a sonnet. Sonnet is a form of poem that originated from Italy which has a total of fourteen lines that follows a strict rhyme pattern. Most Shakespearean sonnets end with rhyming couplet and “Sonnet 18” is not an exception. Sonnet 18 has the following theme namely the theme of love, the theme of immortality, the theme of immunity.

Likely Questions:-
  1. Examine the theme of immunity in Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare
  2. Shed light on the concept of “summer's day” as regards Shakespeare's poem
  3. What is the thematic preoccupation of the poet in Sonnet 18?
  4. Explain the use of metaphor in Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare
  5. Discuss the changing mood of the poet in “Sonnet 18”
  6. How relevant is the use of metaphor in Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer's Day?
  7. Give a detailed justification to the title of the poem Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer's Day
Samuel C. Enunwa aka samueldpoetry
(the Leo with wings flying)

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