AP English 12
10 March 2015
The theme of beauty in poetry continues to transcend generations as each generation has a different time period and can be influenced greatly by what surrounds them. William Shakespeare wrote during the Elizabethan age. During this age the importance of literature, learning, and acting were being recognized. Lord Byron was an English poet who wrote during the Romanticism period. This period fought against the Eighteenth century obsession with rationalism. Each poet or person comes from different times and their surroundings are not all the same. They may be influenced by education, culture, heritage, parenting, leaders, environment, peers, location or etc. Though each person’s/poets recognition or view of beauty may be different they still show beauty.
William Shakespeare was an English poet and widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English semantic. He wrote during the Elizabethan age. This period was a politically stable era that shadowed and heralded eras of extensive upheaval. During this age the importance of literature, learning, and acting were being recognized. Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 was one out of one hundred fifty-four that he had written during the Elizabethan epoch. The poem is Iambic Pentameter with a rhyme scheme that is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. There are no enjambments, as every single line is end-stopped. There are two quatrains, followed by a third quatrain in which a volta occurs and the tone of the poem shifts, this happens in the ninth line; this is in turn followed by a rhyming couplet that wraps the poem up. This particular sonnet is generally thought to be about a young man and the main theme is beauty. To begin the poem, a question is asked. It may as well be rhetorical though as the poet goes on to exactly that. It’s unknown of who he’s speaking to; he may be breaking the “fourth wall” if he is acknowledging his audience. Shakespeare uses the word “temperate” which, like most words, can have multiple meanings. It can mean moderate, restrain, and it could also mean mild which in turn may refer to the “summer’s day” Shakespeare is speaking of. In his time it meant a balance of “humours.” This basically means the relative amount of certain fluids in one’s body was believed to dictate ones temperament, disposition, nature, and/or state of mind. The fluids could be blood, yellow bile, black bile, phlegm or etc. He is stating that this “thee” in the poem has the correct balance of fluids and is temperate and the day is mild.(lines 1-2) Nature is then personified in lines 3-4. Summer cannot have a “lease” on the weather. Though the diction does imply the fact that summer has a limited time and must come to a close. It is also mentioned that summer has "too short a date," although summer repeatedly occurs. In a sense summer is eternal. Lines 5-6 also personify nature, he calls the sun the "eye of heaven," and refers to it using the word "his," then gives it a "complexion," which generally means refers to the tone or appearance of the skin of the face. It also brings back the whole "humours” we saw in "temperate" in line two. He goes on to speak of how all things “fair” fade away. All beauty loses its trimmings be it by natural causes or not.(lines 7-8) Line nine is where the volta occurs; the tone and direction of poem change. The speaker now goes on about how the “thee’s” beauty will not fade. Here is when the similarities of “thee” and “summer’s day” should begin to be recognized. Both can fade away or, depending on how you look at it, be eternal, and both can be personified. The word “ow’st” is significant because it can mean owest or ownest. It can mean that the “thee” owns the beauty so that’s why it won’t fade or that she doesn’t have to return what she borrowed but now owes it back. This coincides with line four and the “lease” summer holds.(lines 9-10) Now in line eleven, death is personified. It basically states that death will not come