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Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day: WBCHSE, BSEM notes

Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day WBCHSE Class 12 English

Get notes, solutions, summary, textual questions and answers, extras, MCQs, and pdf of the poem Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? by William Shakespeare which is part of West Bengal Board and Manipur Board.

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Summary and explanation
WBCHSE Class 12 version
BSEM Class 10 version


The speaker opens the poem with a question, asking if he should compare the beloved to a summer’s day. In the next lines, he stipulates how the beloved differs from summer: the beloved is more lovely and mild in temperament.

The speaker then describes some of the flaws of summer days. Summer winds can be rough and shake the buds of May. Summer is fleeting – its duration is too short. The sun often shines too intensely, or its “gold complexion” is dimmed by clouds. Every beautiful thing in nature eventually declines over time or due to the changing seasons.

In the final quatrain, the speaker states that the beloved’s beauty will remain perfect forever and will never fade like summer does. The beloved will never have to face death’s decay. Instead, the beloved’s beauty will be preserved eternally in the lines of this poem.

The couplet concludes that as long as humans live and can see, this poem will live on, keeping the beloved’s beauty alive forever. Essentially, the poet is immortalizing the beloved through verse, promising that the poetry will eternally preserve the memory and beauty of the beloved.

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Line by line explanation

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

The speaker opens with a question, asking if he should compare the beloved to a summer’s day.

Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

The beloved is more beautiful and more mildly tempered than a summer’s day.

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

Summer winds can be rough, shaking the buds of May.

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:

Summer’s duration is too brief.

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

The sun often shines too intensely in the summer.

And often is his gold complexion dimmed;

Clouds often dim the sun’s golden complexion in summer.

And every fair from fair sometime declines,

All that is beautiful in nature declines over time.

By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimmed.

Beauty fades due to chance or nature’s changing seasons.

But thy eternal summer shall not fade

The beloved’s beauty will remain perfect, never fading.

Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;

The beloved will not lose possession of his beauty.

Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,

Death cannot boast that the beloved wanders in his shade.

When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st,

As long as this poem lives on through time.

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

As long as humans live and can see,

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

This poem will live on, keeping the beloved’s memory alive.


Thee – You (the beloved being addressed)

Lovely – Beautiful, attractive

Temperate – Moderate, mild, not extreme

Rough winds – Strong, turbulent winds

Darling buds of May – Beloved flowers of springtime

Summer’s lease – Summer’s duration, its allotted time

Date – Duration, time period

Eye of heaven – The sun

Gold complexion – Golden color, radiance

Dimmed – Darkened, made less bright

Fair – Beautiful, attractive

Declines – Deteriorates, fades

Chance – Random occurrence, happenstance

Untrimmed – Unaltered, unchanged

Eternal summer – Perpetual youth and beauty

Ow’st – Own, possess

Shade – Shadow, darkness; the afterlife

Eternal lines – Everlasting verses of poetry

Time – Mortality, decay

Grow’st – Endure, persist through time

Gives life – Immortalizes, preserves in verse

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