In Sonnet 18, William Shakespeare begins by considering what metaphorical comparisons would best reflect the young man, in fact a typical convention of Renaissance poems is to compare beauty and youth with aspects of nature. In the first and in the second stanza he develops the idea of summer: in the first stanza (the introductory part) he wants to compare the young man to a summer day, but he also says that the man is more beautiful and more lovely than a summer day; in fact, he knows, summer can be very short and the weather is changeable: sometimes it’s too hot and sometimes the sun has disappeared, but he can’t be obscured. Then the poet adds that it is also true that, like a real summer, the young man’s youth will not last forever, because it is how nature goes (it’s temporary). The third stanza starts with an adversative, here the poet concentrates in the man’s beauty and he says that his beauty won’t disappear; not even death can take his beauty, because in poetry the poet is able to preserve the idea of beauty and youth. It is something like a promise: in the world of the poem, the young’s man beauty will never die, but it will go on growing in the minds of readers; Shakespeare wishes to preserve the young man’s beauty against the effects of time. The poem carries the meaning of an Italian or Petrarchan Sonnet (Petrarchan sonnets typically discuss the love and beauty of a beloved). The theme is the transience of beauty, the poet tries to immortalize the young man’s beauty through his own poetry. Sonnet 130
This is a sonnet written for a dark lady, in which Shakespeare criticizes the idealising tendency of the most Elizabethan love poetry to compare the beloved with nature. Sonnet 130 is clearly a parody of the conventional love sonnet, made popular by Petrarch. In describing his dark lady, he is careful to emphasise how little she corresponds to the conventional idea of beauty of his time; in fact from the sonnet we can understand that...
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