Sonnet 18

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Rhyming Pattern

The following presentation of Sonnet 18, one of Shakespeare's most famous, will help you visualize the rhyming pattern of the sonnets. I capitalized the last part of each line and typed a letter to the left of the line to indicate the pattern. The meaning of each line appears at right.

Sonnet XVIII (18)

Addressed to the Young Man

Quatrain 1 (four-line stanza)

A Shall I compare thee to a summer's DAY?If I compared you to a summer day

B Thou art more lovely and more temperATE:I'd have to say you are more beautiful and serene:

A Rough winds do shake the darling buds of MAY,By comparison, summer is rough on budding life,

B And summer's lease hath all too short a DATE:And doesn't last long either:

Comment: In Shakespeare's time, May (Line 3) was considered a summer month.

Quatrain 2 (four-line stanza)

C Sometime too hot the eye of heaven SHINES,At times the summer sun [heaven's eye] is too hot,

D And often is his gold complexion DIMM'D;And at other times clouds dim its brilliance;

C And every fair from fair sometime deCLINES,Everything fair in nature becomes less fair from time to time,

D By chance or nature's changing course unTRIMM'D;No one can change [trim] nature or chance;

Comment:."Every fair" may also refer to every fair woman, who "declines" because of aging or bodily changes.

Quatrain 3 (four-line stanza)

E But thy eternal summer shall not FADEHowever, you yourself will not fade

F Nor lose possession of that fair thou OWEST;Nor lose ownership of your fairness;

E Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his SHADE,Not even death will claim you,

F When in eternal lines to time thou GROWEST:Because these lines I write will immortalize you:

Couplet (two rhyming lines)

G So long as men can breathe or eyes can SEE,Your beauty will last as long as men breathe and see,

G So long lives this and this gives life to THEE.As Long as this sonnet...
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