Sonnet 18

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SONNET XVIII

While this sonnet is composed by a Shakespearean rhyme scheme and with iambic pentameter rhythm (the rhyme scheme appears as follows: ABAB CDCD EFEF GG), the poem is heavily influenced by the Petrarchan structure; that is, with a problem posed in the first octave and the answer to the problem beginning in the ninth line (which in Italian was known as volta). In this sonnet, the first two quatrains could be grouped as an octave because the speaker is posing a problem to the reader as to how to immortalize his beloved's beauty, while the last six lines focus on unfolding it. However, these lines cannot be grouped because, even though they pose a solution, there is a clear turn from the earlier problem in the final couplet. In these, the tone of the poem changes with the speaker finally soothing his concern about losing the object of his affection, with the conclusion on how to immortalize his love. The speaker must preserve the loved one for all time in his own poetry to avoid the inevitable: "Death brag thou wander'st in his shade".

The speaker is troubled on the beauty of the subject not lasting for all time. In the first line, he chooses to compare his loved one to the brightest of seasons. When the speaker states, “summer’s lease hath all too short a date,” it suggests that the notion of time refers to the constant change of seasons. This change characterizes the first two quatrains, and shows that “time” becomes a dilemma for the speaker who wants to preserve the beauty of his beloved. Lines six through fourteen, as metioned earlier, give resolution to the first eight lines. This second part of the sonnet focuses on the eternal. When the speaker states, “When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st,” he suggests that everything keeps shifting, but his poetry does not alter.

The turn in line nine also emphasizes the real summer and the metaphorical eternal summer in the youth’s beauty, which the speaker preserves...
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