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