Presentation of the poem
Title: “Sonnet 18” (1609)
Author: William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare is one of the most famous English playwrights and poets who ever lived. Surprisingly little is known about his life. He was born in 1564 in England, and before his death in 1613 he wrote at least 37 plays and a large number of sonnets (fourteen-line love poems written according to a strict format of rhyme and rhythm).
In 1609, Shakespeare published a now-famous collection of 154 sonnets. The first 126 of these are addressed to a “fair youth”, an attractive young man. Various guesses at his identity have been made throughout history. It is thought that Shakespeare wrote his sonnets in the 1590s and early 1600s.
In William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 18,” the speaker asks whether he should compare the subject - a handsome young man - to a summer's day. The speaker goes on to suggest that the young man is in fact even lovelier, because summer days tend to be too extreme and inevitably fade away.
The speaker then suggests that the young man will live forever in the form of the sonnet itself, as long as people continue to read the speaker’s lines.
In our topic guide on William Shakespeare and his texts in general, you can find a lot of information about how to analyze the texts. You can also read about Shakespeare's historical context (the Elizabethan era) and much more.