Monday, September 24, 2007

Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate. How comforting a thought as we head toward the bleak, dispiriting, obduracy of winter. (see below for sonnet + explanation)

My absence wasn't intentional; I've been away from blogger-enabled computers for some time. Still am, for the most part. So you know you're not missing out, its just been more of the usual - suicidal ideations, start-of-semester class choosing, the job hunt, the opera. Opera was kind of cool, I live in New York so some of my out of town friends encouraged me to take advantage of the Met. Too bad my potential date never answered his phone.

The job hunt was most depressing. I sent out tons of resumes and got no calls for interviews. I know, it's my fault. I went about the task all wrong. I didn't clearly think it through and decide what kind of job I wanted. In the end I found a cool spot in a university research lab. Probably unpaid, boring lab work, but that's life. It's only short term.

I hit a crisis after graduating. College is too good to give up for something as ethereal as a diploma. So I'm taking a few more classes this semester while I decide where to go next.

P.S. For all those of you who found this page searching for an explanation to Shakepeare's 18th Sonnet, here goes:

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds 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 complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.
-- William Shakespeare

It was common in Shakespeare's time to compare one's lover to a beautiful and pleasant summer day in praise of their delightful qualities. Shakespeare wants to improve on this cliche. He opens, "shall I compare thee" and answers: No, that comparison would not suffice to do justice to your loveliness, my sweet. Why not? Because "rough winds do shake the buds of May" (early summer is still cold, harsh weather may yet intrude) but you my love are always charming. Later in the season, it becomes too hot, sometimes cloudy or rainy, and then the season fades quickly back into winter.

But thy eternal summer shall never fade. Unlike the shifting seasons, once pleasant, next moment harsh, you, my beautiful muse, writes Shakespeare, shall remain forever untouched and perfect, your grace captured in my poem. This poem has endured hundreds of years and recreates in the reader's mind the beauty of the subject as it did the day it was written. Though the subject has grown old and is by now long dead, "so long lives this (poem) and this gives life to thee (keeps you alive in the minds of men)." This is one of several Shakespearean sonnets composed along the theme of poetry as a means to immortality.

1 comment:

Russ Freeman said...

Nice analysis. Thanks!