Thursday, February 5, 2009


In the SPM ENGLISH 1119, you are required to answer a stuctured question on one poem. You will be tested on your understanding of the poem and you are also required to give your opinion to issues raised. One way to prepare for the exam for poems is to paraphrase the poem, making sure you understand all the difficult words.
I found a useful paraphrase while surfing and I would like to share it with teachers and students alike.

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Shall I compare you to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
You are more lovely and more delightful:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
Rough winds shake the much loved buds of May
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
And summer is far too short:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
At times the sun is too hot,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd; Or often goes behind the clouds;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
And everything that is beautiful will lose its beauty,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
By chance or by nature's planned out course;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
But your youth shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor lose the beauty that you possess;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
Nor will death claim you for his
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
Because in my eternal verse you will forever:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long as there are people on this
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.
So long will this poem live
on, giving you immortality.

[Line 9]* - The friend's 'summer' or 'prime of life' will remain eternal because the poet immortalizes him in verse. Lines 10-14 confirm this reading. For more on this theme, see sonnet 55.

[Line 12]* - Because of the poet's verse the friend will actually grow as one with time ("to time thou growest"). For similar imagery, see sonnet 15, line 14.

Sonnet 18 is perhaps the best known and most well-loved of all 154 poems. It is also one of the most straightforward in language and intent. The stability of love and its power to immortalize the poetry and the subject of that poetry is the theme. The poet starts the praise of his dear friend without ostentation, but he slowly builds the image of his friend into that of a perfect being. His friend is first compared to summer in the octave, but, at the start of the third quatrain (9), he is summer, and thus, he has metamorphosed into the standard by which true beauty can and should be judged. The poet's only answer to such profound joy and beauty is to ensure that his friend be forever in human memory, saved from the ultimate oblivion that accompanies death. He achieves this through his verse, believing that, as history writes itself, his friend will become one with time (or, more informally, keep up to time). The couplet reaffirms the poet's hope that as long as there is breath in mankind, his poetry too will live on, and ensure the immortality of his muse.

Mabillard, Amanda. An Analysis of Shakespeare's Sonnet 18. Shakespeare Online. 2000. (day/month/year you accessed the information) < >.

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