And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d.”
The first line explains that sometimes strong winds blow during summer, shaking the boughs of the trees. The second line tells us that summer does not last long enough and ends too early. The next line, explains that the Sun’s rays are sometimes too hot. Finally, Shakespeare states that the Sun is often blocked out by clouds.
After this, it is explained in the poem that everything in nature will decline either by chance or naturally in a gradual manner in the lines:
“And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d.”
This also explains why the beauty of a summer’s day can not match that of the woman he is writing about because her beauty is eternal and will never decline.
The remaining lines in the poem tell us that her beauty is eternal and as long as people are alive to see her fairness, the contents of this poem will remain true.
Throughout this sonnet, there is an extensive use of imagery and comparisons. The first comparison compares the woman that this poem is about to a “summer’s day.” This comparison is use because both of them are beautiful images, although the woman is even more beautiful. The next use of imagery is: “the eye of heaven,” this is a metaphor to the Sun. Further imagery used to describe the Sun is: “…his gold complexion dimm’d.” This is a good example of personification where the Sun is talked about as if it is a person. The final use of imagery is also personification: “Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade.” This means that ‘Death’ will never be able to brag that she is going to die next as she can defy time because her beauty is eternal and everlasting. Every image used by Shakespeare to describe the woman is an example of hyperbole which is deliberate exaggeration.
The whole of this sonnet is composed using sixteenth century Elizabethan English. The mood of the poem is highly complimentary, praising, very gentle and loving in the way that the poem creates the illusion that this woman personifies the word ‘beauty’. From the sonnet, I have gained the impression that the tone is boastful and in awe. The former is present because the man is boasting that the woman that he is in love with is very beautiful and he has been lucky enough to have witnessed her beauty. The man is in awe of the woman’s beauty.
This is structured as a fourteen line sonnet where alternate lines rhyme in three rhyming quatrains followed by a final rhyming couplet. Each line has ten syllables and is an iambic pentameter, which means that each line has five beats. The last two lines in a sonnet are called a rhyming couplet, which has two purposes in Shakespeare’s Love Sonnets: they either sum up the whole poem or they totally contradict it and go against the previous twelve lines. In this poem, the rhyming couplet sums up the poem.
The theme of the sonnet, “So Are You to My Thoughts…” is a man describing his relationship with a woman and how much he depends on her to live. The whole of the sonnet is about a man’s predicament as to whether he should ‘gorge’ on his lover or hide her away. Like the sonnet, “Shall I Compare Thee…” this poem is written in first person as a direct speaking voice.
The opening two lines of the sonnet describe the man’s dependency on his lover to live. It is described as “food to life” and “as sweet-season’d showers are to the ground.” These two comparisons are a good way of showing his dependency on the woman to live because without food we cannot live and the plants in the grounds would die without rain water. The next four lines describe his worry that someone could steal his partner from him. In the subsequent two lines, he thinks that the solution to his problem would be to isolate her from the rest of the world so that other people would not see her.
After this, he explains that because he has to hide her away from other people, sometimes he ‘feasts’ on her sight, but can also be starved for a look at her during other times, which gives him no pleasure or happiness at all. Although, the small glimpses that he ‘takes’ from her do give him some delight. In the closing lines, he stated that he either yearns for her or ‘gorges’ on her and keeps the woman to himself.
Within this sonnet, there is a wide use of imagery for the woman that he is in love with and himself. The woman is compared to ‘food’ and ‘showers of rain’ as explained earlier in the poem. To continue the theme of food, the woman is later compared to a ‘feast’. The man describes himself as an enjoyer of his lover’s beauty and compares himself to a ‘miser’. The latter is used in conjunction with the comparison of the woman to a ‘miser’s wealth’ or treasure. This is used to show his ‘stinginess’ of hiding her away like a miser would do with their belongings or money and not share them with anyone.
The sonnet is written using sixteenth century Elizabethan English. There are also some examples of the usage of alliteration in the second line and the ninth line. They are: ‘sweet-season’d showers’ and ‘full with feasting’, respectively. The alliteration gives emphasis to the lines in the poem. The general tone of the sonnet seems to be confused or puzzled because there are many paradoxes in the poem. Also, the man is unsure about what he should do with his relationship that he has with his partner. Examples of these paradoxes include:
“Sometime all full with feasting on your sight,
And by and by clean starved for a look.”
Another example is:
“Thus do I pine and surfeit day by day.
Or gluttoning on all, or all away.”
The mood of the poem appears to be anxious and worried because he is scared that someone could steal or take the woman that he is in love with from him.
This is structured as a fourteen line sonnet where alternate lines rhyme in three rhyming quatrains followed by a final rhyming couplet. Each line has ten syllables and is an iambic pentameter, which means that each line has five beats. In this poem, the rhyming couplet sums up the poem.
The theme of the poem, “My Mistress’ Eyes…” is a man describing in detail his Elizabethan mistress. Although, unlike the other two sonnets previously studied, this poem seems to be mocking the love conventions widely used in Elizabethan poetry. I think this because none of the comparisons used are very complimentary or flattering. Instead, they depict the woman to be rather ordinary. Another difference between this sonnet and the other two is that this sonnet is written in third person rather than first person.
The poem immediately begins with four comparisons to describe the woman’s eyes, lips, skin (breasts) and hair. After this, he explains that he has seen many red and white roses, but the shades of those two colours are not present in her cheeks. Following this, he states that he finds the aroma of some perfumes more delightful than his mistress’ breath which in his opinion, “reeks.” Within the next two lines, he expresses his opinion of his mistress’ voice. He likes to hear it, but knows that it is surpassed by music as it has a more “pleasing” sound. Then, a suggestion to a typical comparison used in Elizabethan poetry is made. Women are usually describes to ‘float’ or ‘hover’ on the ground whilst walking to describe their grace and elegance. However, he says that when his mistress walks, she: “treads on the ground.”
Every comparison used in this sonnet is quite negative and reduce her to the ‘average’ Elizabethan woman. The first example is: “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun.” Instead of praising the twinkle or shine in her eyes like the sun, her eyes are describes to have neither of these qualities. The next example is: “If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun.” A compliment in the Elizabethan period may have been to describe someone’s skin as snowy white, but in this sonnet is describes to be a rather dull colour. A further example is the line: “If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.” This gives the impression that her hair is rather messy or untidy like wires on a brush. To sum up these comparisons; they all state that she is beautiful, but does not stand out from other Elizabethan women.
The language of this poem is sixteenth century Elizabethan English. The general mood in the poem appears to be quite humourous and comical owing to the tone of the majority of the poem which is teasing, mocking and satirical. I feel this is the tone of the poem because Shakespeare is openly mocking or making-fun of the traditional images of love widely used throughout Elizabethan Love Sonnets. This is achieved by incorporating comparisons that aren’t very flattering. Although, the tone does change within the last two lines, where a genuine feeling of love is expressed.
The sonnet consists of fourteen lines where alternate lines rhyme in three rhyming quatrains. Each line is an iambic pentameter where there are five stressed beats per line. Also, there are 10 syllables per line like the other two sonnets. The poem begins as a description of his mistress’ physical features, but later goes on to describe her demeanour. The rhyming couplet at the end of the sonnet differs from the other two because it contradicts the whole poem, instead of summing it up. The rhyming couplet contradicts the whole sonnet because the sonnet talks about the mistress to be plain and ordinary, but the rhyming couplet describes her as rare and totally unlike any other.
After reading the three sonnets, I have discovered that there are many common features in Shakespeare’s Love Sonnets. The structure of all his sonnets are the same because they are all composed of fourteen lines, every line is an iambic pentameter, alternate lines rhyme in quatrains and each sonnet ends in a rhyming couplet. A theme that is common between all the poems is that they all describe a woman’s beauty or someone’s love for a woman. Another common theme in the three sonnets is that the feelings of the narrator come through in first person where the narrator is speaking directly to the woman. Finally, the last common theme that is prominent throughout the sonnets is that all the comparisons are exaggerated.
In the first sonnet, “Shall I Compare Thee…” the woman is compared to a “summer’s day” and this theme is developed in the poem. In the second sonnet, “So Are You to My Thoughts…” the woman is compared mainly to food and wealth. Whereas the last sonnet, “My Mistress’ Eyes…” the woman is compared to a vast amount of things like the Sun and coral.
I like the poem, “My Mistress’ Eyes” because of the mocking tone that was a result of Shakespeare making-fun of the love conventions used throughout Elizabethan poetry. Also, I enjoyed reading this poem because it contrasted greatly with the other two sonnets as it did not describe the woman to be ‘perfect’, but realistic. Whereas, I liked the imagery used in, “Shall I Compare Thee…” because a summer’s day is a very beautiful image and to compare a woman to this really shows her true beauty. Likewise, I appreciated the sentiment expressed in, “So Are You to My Thoughts…” because the main theme is stating that a woman is so precious and vital that to function without her would be absolutely impossible. Yet overall, I prefer the poem, “Shall I Compare Thee…” for several reasons. Firstly, I really liked the imagery used; secondly, I thought the image of a “summer’s day” was very beautiful and thirdly, I liked the way that Shakespeare conveyed the message cpnvincingly, that the woman’s beauty is greater than a summer’s day and will never fade or deteriorate.