Sonnet 18

By William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an English poet, playwright, and actor. He wrote 154 sonnets and 38
plays. “Sonnet 18” is one of Shakespeare’s best-known sonnets. As you read, identify the imagery and tone
the speaker users to describe the subject of the poem as well as the summer.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.1
Rough winds do shake the darling buds2
of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion3
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,4
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest5
in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.6
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

  1. Temperate (adjective) moderate or mild
  2. blossoms
  3. Complexion (noun) natural color or appearance, especially of the face
  4. you owe
  5. you wander
  6. you grow

Discussion Questions
Directions: Brainstorm your answers to the following questions in the space provided. Be prepared to
share your original ideas in a class discussion.

  1. Shakespeare is one of the most widely translated and read writers in history. Why do you
    think Shakespeare’s writing has endured for so long?
  2. Love has consistently been a major theme in music, art, and literature. In your opinion, do
    poetry and love share a special connection? What does this poem teach us about love?
  3. In the poem, the speaker uses nature to describe his love. How is the speaker able to
    effectively compare the beauty of nature to the beauty of a person?