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Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18

Sonnets were the most popular verse form of the Renaissance. If a poet wanted to prove himself, he wrote sonnets. It is a rigid form, only 14 lines with set rhyming patterns. Almost all sonnets are love poems. Why this strict form for love poetry? It is the recognition that the nature of love must be disciplined. The emotions may be sincere but they need discipline. Poets did not just write one love sonnet, they wrote dozens, even hundreds to show the different forms of their love. Shakespeare wrote 153 sonnets: the first 126 are about platonic love, and sonnets 127 – 151 were addressed to “the dark lady.” He wrote his sonnets early in his career, from 1592-1595. The English form is known as the Shakespearean sonnet. Sonnet 18 Shall I compare these to a summer’s day? is one of his best-known. He begins expressing doubt that he can adequately do justice. He compares his love to the beauty of nature; but everything in nature fades. Beauty can change. But his love is outside of nature, outside of time. As long as men have breath and eyes to read this poem, your beauty will live on. Beauty is eternal.

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