Themes and message

Youth and beauty

William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 18” is a tribute to a young man. One of the themes in the poem is that of youth and beauty. The whole sonnet is an exercise in finding a comparison that is good enough to capture this young man’s youth as well as his inner and outer beauty. Compared to a summer’s day, the young man is “more lovely and more temperate” (l. 1). 

The poem also deals with the consequences of ageing. Normally, a person’s beauty and youth will fade and eventually end in death and oblivion. However, the speaker of the poem insists that the young man’s youth and beauty will last forever: “thy eternal summer shall not fade” (l. 9). The young man’s qualities will live on in memory and description through the very poem praising the young man. Thus, the poem has found a way of beating nature.

Poetry and immortality

A major theme of “Sonnet 18” is the immortality-through-verse theme. In relation to the young man, the sonnet suggests that poetry can make someone immortal, because that person w...

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