Although the most obvious theme in most of the Shakespearian sonnets, including this one, is love, there is always an underlying theme. In this poem, it is time; immortality and the transience of beauty. The speaker mentions numerous times throughout the poem that “every fair from fair sometime declines” be it that of nature, “summer's lease hath all too short a date” and eventually Autumn begins in which the leaves shrivel and die, or that of the subject. From the third quatrain onwards, the speaker talks about the immortality of his words and of her. He claims that “so long as men can breathe or eyes can see” his poem will be remembered, immortalising her with it, “so long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”
Shakespeare begins the sonnet with a rhetorical question, “Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?”. This introduces the main metaphor of the poem; a summer’s day. Summer is the season in which everything has reached full bloom, before summer there is Spring in which everything begins to grow, and after is Autumn in which everything starts the decline towards death (winter). But in summer, the flowers have blossomed, the fruit is ripe and the days are longest. This is one of the reasons Shakespeare chose to use it to compare with the subject’s beauty because they also are now at the peak of their development. Another reason is that summer would have also been one of the shortest seasons of the year in Shakespeare’s experience making it all the more precious, like the subject, but also, it complies with Shakespeare’s message in the poem; that all things beautiful eventually fade. In the second line, “thou art more lovely and more temperate”, he explains why the comparison in the first line is unfair, why the subject can’t be compared even to a summer’s day; because she is even more beautiful. He spends the next four lines describe how the seasons and nature is never perfect. This embodies and represents the love that the subject...
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