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The following essay will examine the two poems, 'The Raven' by Edgar Alan Poe and 'Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?' by William Shakespeare

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Introduction

Word count: 1178 Poe v Shakespeare: A Comparative essay The following essay will examine the two poems, 'The Raven' by Edgar Alan Poe and 'Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?' by William Shakespeare ultimately evaluating which is more effective and appropriate for a modern audience. The two poems will be evaluated using the criteria of structure, language and discourse. While 'The Raven' is more effective in its use of discourse, 'Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?' is noticeably superior in its use of figurative language and literary structure, privileging and foregrounding ideas and values that are more appropriate for modern readers. First and foremost, 'Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?' is noticeably more effective in its use of literary structure in comparison to 'The Raven'. Consequently, the two poems bare very few conventional similarities in relation to structure. Shakespeare's 'Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?' is in the form of a Sonnet, a rhyming poem in 14 lines using iambic pentameter. Poe's 'The Raven' differs immensely, a poem in free verse, characterised by 18 stanzas, 6 lines per stanza for a total of 108 lines. ...read more.

Middle

In the next line when the poet mentions that "often is his gold complexion dimm'd" he begins to present summer as possessing only mutable beauty. The third quatrain speaks of the eternal nature of the memory of his beloved. When the poet assures that her "eternal summer shall not fade" (Li9) he uses summer as a metaphor for her beauty. Using "fade" facilitates the direct comparison of the abstract notion of a summer's day to the concrete person of his beloved because fading is an attribute of light. Similarly, when the poet writes of his beloved entering the "shade" (Li10) of death, he expands on the use of the metaphor and reinforces the poem's primary conceit. When the poet states that his beloved won't suffer the same fate as a summer's day because he has committed her to "eternal lines" (Li12) he grants his beloved immortality through poetry that God did not give to the summer's day. The couplet concludes the poem by tying together the common themes of love and poetry, boasting that unlike a summer's day, his poetry and the memory of his beloved will last "so long as men can breathe or eyes can see" (Li13) ...read more.

Conclusion

Another example is "Nepenthe," (Li5 Sta14), a potion mentioned in the Iliad used by Ancients to induce forgetfulness of pain or sorrow. How or when he lost his beloved Lenore is silenced. In comparison to this, 'Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?' predominantly uses the romantic discourse. Shakespeare foregrounds lines such as "Thou art more lovely and more temperate" to exalt his beloved. Similarly to Poe, Shakespeare uses archaic words such as "Thee" "Thou" and "Hath". Some of the aspects marginalised in the poem include the gender of the beloved (there are theories that Sonnets 1-27 were to a young man 'in his sights') and whether his beloved had indeed died. In summary both Poe and Shakespeare chose Love and Beauty as the sole legitimate provinces of their poems. After this decision, Poe chose sadness and death to be the highest manifestation of beauty, while Shakespeare chose immortality through verse. While 'The Raven' is more effective in its use of discourse, 'Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?' is indeed noticeably superior in its use of figurative language and literary structure, privileging and foregrounding ideas and values that are more appropriate for modern readers. ...read more.

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