February 25

Shall I compare thee?

Tonight, please explain how memorizing your sonnet changed your understanding of  it.  In other words, you already wrote a blog explaining what you understood about both sonnets, but tonight you should explain how the experience of memorization and recital changed that understanding.  What new insights have you had?  What do you now understand?   In addition, however, you must respond to at least one comment on the sonnet that you did memorize.

Some questions to consider for your analysis:

  • What literary elements, such as simile, metaphor, alliteration, word choice, etc., do you notice and what effect do they have on the overall sonnet?
  • What is the most important underlying message of your sonnet?

As always, you MUST provide specific evidence from your text, proofread your writing for spelling, punctuation, and grammar.  Please also respond to at least one other comment in this thread.

Sonnet blog #2

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Posted February 25, 2019 by equinson in category Shakespeare

30 thoughts on “Shall I compare thee?

  1. Sunna

    When I first read “My mistress’ eyes”, I didn’t understand it in the way that I do now. At first, the main idea that I took away from the sonnet was that someone was pointing out the flaws in his mistress, but still loved her, despite these imperfections. However, as I memorized this sonnet, I realized that his “insults” weren’t very extreme at all. After all, whose lips are more red than coral? Who has breath that smells of perfume? Who has a voice that is as pleasant as music? These are unbelievable standards for anyone. However, these may seem like insults to the reader when they first read it. Part of that is due to the fact that people hold them up to such high standards, and apply these standards to others, as well. We think that we must be absolutely perfect, or else we must do better. Everyone is so caught up in being absolutely perfect that no one thinks about how unrealistic it is to be up to our society’s standard of “perfect”. This sonnet can teach us that beauty is full of our mistakes and imperfections, and no one should expect or be expected to be flawless.

  2. Emily

    Memorizing a sonnet helped my understanding because by forcing me to learn every singular word, I had to think about what they all ment. I chose the sonnet, “Shall I compare thee” and after memorizing it I noticed that it is not only about external appearances, as I once thought. Af first one thinks that it is just about external beauty because of lines that say they “art more lovely and more temperate” and that the subject is in the same way that “heaven shines”. Although these are about beauty, Shakespeare also says things like “they eternal summer shall not fade” which leads one to think that it is about eternal beauty. Shakespeare is leading one to believe that long after the subjects external beauty fades, they will still be beautiful on the inside. Most importantly that their internal beauty will live on forever.

    1. Mikayla Friedman

      I really like your analysis of the sonnet! I had thought about the internal beauty before, but I never realized that Shakespeare was not only talking about the eternal exterior beauty of the man, but about his internal beauty, too.

    2. trinityt

      I agreed. At first, I thought that Shakespeare was just talking about outer beauty, but then I realized that he was talking about both outer and inner beauty.

  3. Mikayla Friedman

    I think memorizing a sonnet was a really good experience, since it not only imprinted it in my brain forever, but also helped me gain a deeper understanding that came from knowing the words by heart. For instance, before memorizing the poem I thought the line “Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,” was just talking about the sun, but then I noticed it could also mean that the sun shines too bright in the summertime, which is a downside of the season. Also, after reciting this poem so many times I realized that Shakespeare mentions a number of downsides of summer, including rough winds, hot weather, and the the shortness of summer. I only noticed those things after memorizing the sonnet. In addition, I noticed how Shakespeare uses the word Death. He capitalizes the word, which makes it seem like a person who wouldn’t be able to have this gorgeous man in his realm. In conclusion, memorizing “Shall I compare thee” was a positive experience that gave me a deeper meaning of the sonnet.

      1. Emma Garbowitz

        I agree that after reading the sonnet multiple times that Death was personified. I thought this was an interesting point and I agree with your analysis of the topic.

  4. Myles Ng

    I memorized and recited “Shall I compare thee,” by Shakespeare.
    Reading a poem does not get you the same perspective as hearing the poem. By speaking the poem you feel the way Shakespeare felt when he was writing or saying this poem to someone. You feel more of the feelings he was trying to convey into his poem. “But thy eternal summer shall not fade” When just reading the poem you know that the poem is a love poem but do not actually feel the love. Reciting the poem makes you feel like you are Shakespeare saying the poem to its intended audience, like the person he was declaring his love for. By memorizing the poem and having in your brain you are also able to get a visual of the poem or the person the poem was meant for. “And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;”

  5. Kate Ma.

    After memorizing Shakespeare’s sonnet 18, it enhanced my understanding of it. Before memorizing it, I was unsure of what Shakespeare was trying to convey in his sonnet, but now i’m aware that he portrays the idea of that everything’s beauty eventually fades, except this persons beauty. For instance, he tells how summer ends too soon, rough winds blow, and clouds take away the sun. All of these are examples of fading beauty. Yet at the end, he writes about a person who’s beauty will never fade since the person he writes about exists in “eternal lines”, meaning poetry. At first I didn’t catch this but now i’m aware of Shakespeare’s main idea of this sonnet.

  6. Maddie

    Today in class I recited “My mistress’ eyes”. Memorizing and reciting the sonnet to the class helped me greatly to understand the true meaning of the poem. I noticed two craft moves that Shakespeare used while writing this poem. The first craft move was similes. In the first line, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”, He is comparing the eyes of his girlfriend to the sun, saying that they are nothing alike. Another craft move that Shakespeare uses is metaphors. An example of a metaphor in the sonnet is when he compares his mistress’ breasts to snow and her hair to wires. “If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun; If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.” These similes and metaphors helped me to find the deeper meaning of the poem. In the poem, the comparisons that were made described the mistress in a way that was easy to comprehend. Know I know that though Shakespeare is describing his mistress as ugly and unattractive, he sees the true beauty that she has within. Though she is not physically pretty, she is beautiful on the inside, and that is what matters most.

  7. Emma Garbowitz

    Memorizing the sonnet “Shall I Compare Thee” provided me with a better understanding of the sonnet its self. First, after memorizing the sonnet and hearing it so many times I began to thought of it in a deeper way. For example, after reading these last two lines of the sonnet for the first time,
    ” So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
    So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”
    I didn’t really think much of it. I thought Shakespeare was talking about the man in the poem or even summer itself. However, after reading through the sonnet and memorizing it I began to understand that Shakespeare actually meant the sonnet itself. He was trying to say that this sonnet allows people to live if they listen to the meaning and truly understand it. After I made this realization I began to contemplate whether it was true or not. After examining the sonnet more clearly, I came to the conclusion that this statement isn’t true (At least in my opinion). It doesn’t make sense for a sonnet to give life to someone. Maybe it can help a person have a deeper understanding for something but it most definitely cannot give them life. Therefore, after memorizing the sonnet “Shall I Compare Thee” I gained a better understanding of the sonnet.

  8. jane

    I memorized “My Mistress’ Eyes”. Memorizing the sonnet allowed me to hear the lines over and over again and really allowed me to look into the deeper meaning of the poem. I found the prom was easy to understand at first, since Shakespeare is saying things like his girlfriend’s eyes are dull, or that her lips aren’t super red, or that her hair is dark and coarse, not soft. At first, I thought the poem was just saying that she isn’t too pretty, but he loves her anyway. But after hearing and rehearsing the sonnet, I began to realize that it wasn’t about her not being pretty. Shakespeare is more or less comparing his girlfriend to the standards of perfection at the time. Someone that was considered pretty was supposed to have red lips, a beautiful voice, soft hair, etc.. He is using the standards of beauty to show that his girlfriend isn’t how society says she should be, but instead is realistic. No one had a perfect voice or perfect appearance, and Shakespeare shows that he sees past his girlfriend’s bad breath and rough hair to see her inner beauty.

  9. maxwellw

    While at first I didn’t notice the deeper themes of my poem, I now realize how Sonnet 130 carries within it similar themes to those traditional sonnets and my other poem to chose from “Shall I Compare Thee” – female beauty, the anatomy and love, but it approaches them in a thoroughly realistic way; there is no flowery, idealistic language. The mistress’s imperfections are praised and by so doing it could be argued that the speaker is being more honest. True love isn’t reliant on some elusive notion of perfect beauty. The speaker accepts that his lover isn’t a paragon of beauty but a real woman with wiry black hair, off-white breasts, and stinking breath.

    1. josepha4

      That’s very a good way of putting it. Nobody can achieve a perfect standard of beauty because everyone’s standard is different and it’s impossible to be perfect.

  10. Casey

    In the process of learning my sonnet, “My Mistress’ Eyes”, I repeatedly reread it to memorize the order of the lines and words. After reading the same thing so many times, I learned that the sonnet was not an insult to the mistress, but an explanation of how the standards that his mistress is supposed to live up to are extremely unrealistic. Instead of being disappointed that she isn’t the “perfect” woman, he loves her for what she is. Her breath isn’t like perfume and her voice isn’t like music, but that is impossible for a human to achieve. The sonnet is about the love he has for his mistress, not an insult to her.

  11. Laila

    After reading “My Mistress’ Eyes” for the first time, it seemed almost as though Shakespeare was trying to degrade his mistress or speaking poorly of her. After further analyzing the poem, I realized that he is not trying to speak poorly of this mistress but is saying that he loves her imperfections. Throughout the poem Shakespeare lists all of the “flaws” or imperfections on his mistress by comparing her to other things that are “perfect”. He finishes by saying “I think my love as rare as any she belied with false compare.” which shows that the whole time, he didn’t care that the mistress wasn’t perfect. He still loved her.

  12. stephaniec

    After memorizing “Shall I compare thee”, I had a more in depth understanding of the sonnet. I realized that one of the major themes is how beauty is not lasting, but words are. When Shakespeare compared the young man to summer, he pointed out that “summer’s lease hath all too short a date”, meaning that summer is temporary. However, at the end of the sonnet, Shakespeare says “when in eternal lines to time thou grow’st” and “so long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”, meaning that the man’s beauty is greater than summer’s and that his beauty will stay alive through these words.

  13. Hannah Pitkofsky

    When I was first introduced to “Shall I Compare Thee”, I was confused about why Shakespeare would write a sonnet comparing his love to a summer day. As I memorized it and understood the message of the sonnet better, I was better able to appreciate the work that he put in to compare the beauty of a summer day to his love. In the sonnet, it states, “So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, so long lives this, and this gives life to thee.” Another interesting thing Shakespeare does at the very end of the sonnet is he claims that as long as humans exist and that they read this sonnet, that it will keep them alive. I think that when he says that, he is talking about the soul and energy from the sonnet that helps people with their lives which he describes briefly at the end of sonnet 18.

  14. trinityt

    The poem that I memorized and recited was “Shall I compare thee”. When I read the poem for the first time, I didn’t really get it, but as I memorized and recited this poem, I noticed and understand things more than the first time I read it.
    For example, from the discussions we had in class, I realized that the poem was talking about this man’s beauty. More specifically, his outer beauty. However, as I went over the poem again and again, I realized that maybe Shakespeare was talking not only about this man’s outer beauty, but also his inner beauty as well. The line “But thy eternal summer shall not fade” could mean that his inner beauty will not fade away like how his outer beauty will live forever. So, in the poem “Shall I compare thee”, Shakespeare was talking about both outer and inner beauty.
    Another thing I’ve noticed was that when you read the poem, you might have understand it, but maybe not feel the emotions that the author/writer/poet, in this case, Shakespeare, might have felt when he wrote and presented this poem to the audience. When you recited the poem, you somehow feels the emotions and is able connect with the poem more.
    By memorizing and reciting the poem, I was able to understand it more deeply.

    1. angelicac1

      I agree that emotions are strongly connected with this poem. Shakespeare poured a lot of feeling into this sonnet and readers can feel it when they read through it to analyze it.

  15. johnh1

    When reading “Shall I Compare Thee” for the first time I read the sentences to memorize how they went along. However, after reading it again and again I would have time to look the words over again and see what things meant. The way things are worded all come together to mean how the sonnet was made to keep the beauty of Shakespeare’s loved one alive. When you notice things like this and know the poem, things made more sense that were said before, like “thy eternal summer shall not fade”

  16. Zoe

    When I first read the “Shall I Compare Thee” Sonet in class we went through all of the lines and learned the meaning, but the true time I started to understand all of the meaning in the words was when I began to recite it over and over again to memorize the words. Now, after rehearsing, I understand lines such as “When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st” a lot better. It meant that people will remember her because he wrote this power and in time when you grow you will still be remembered. I never really got the concept of writing the poem so she’ll live forever until I memorized the words. Now I realize the true beauty that was created by Shakespeare.

  17. angelicac1

    When our class first worked on learning the meaning of the lines that composed Sonnet 18, it was somewhat easy for me to understand the lines. After reciting it repeatedly in order to force myself to memorize this sonnet, the meaning seemed much more clear to me. It was easy to understand the meaning of the lines that Shakespeare wrote to describe the beauty of his love. I understand “But thy eternal summer shall not fade” as the line that says that even if the lover’s outer beauty fades, they would still have beautiful inner beauty and that would live on forever.

  18. Sophie

    As I started to examine “My Mistress’ Eyes”, I quickly became aware that trying to memorize what looked like a jumble of unfamiliar words was going to be somewhat stressful. Especially with the nerves of presenting in front of the class in the back of my mind. However, once I did some research and lots of analyzing, it became so much easier to remember. It became easy to me in the sense of speaking with a passion. Honoring William Shakespeare’s amazing work and delivering his message of “nobody is perfect” to my piers. My Mistress’ Eyes is a poem about loving somebody no matter what their exterior may seem. Just because a person doesn’t equate to a “perfect image”, no ones body actually perfect! It would be physically impossible for somebody’s eyes to be as bright as the sun, or for someones breath to smell like roses. Shakespeare used a metaphorical aspect to compare a perfect image to a regular human being. Having this deeper understanding of the poem made it easy to memorize by heart, and made me feel less nervous to present. Presenting with a purpose is a much better feeling to have than to speak of something that means nothing to you.

  19. Brishti

    Before I memorized “Shall I compare thee”, I didn’t fully digest the true meaning behind it. The firt time I read it, I thought that Shakespeare was just comparing the young man to a summer’s day in terms of looks. While I took the time to read it over and over again, I realized that he was talking about mainly inner beauty rather than just beauty on the surface. Moreover, it conveys the idea of the fault in wanting looks over the actual person. Even though “My mistress’ eyes” is more upfront about this theme, it is still present in this sonnet. Rather than looking for a partner with a good heart, most people would rather want to be with someone who looks pretty. However, as Shakespeare notes, “Every fair from fair sometime declines”. This means that the pretty face will turn ugly, that fair skin will turn wrinkled, and than slim figure will one day turn plump. Shakespeare is saying that even when he gets old and ugly, he will still love this man regardless because his “eternal summer shall not fade”.

  20. josepha4

    I memorized “Shall I compare thee”, and reading it over again did help me gain understanding of the sonnet. As Shakespeare was conveying that no matter what happens to the outer shell of beauty, the person he is writing to won’t lose his inner beauty or youthful spirit. We see this in the line, ” But thy eternal summer shall not fade” Also before I didn’t understand how he could be saying this to someone but after reading it over and over it became easier to say with rhythm and emotion.

    1. Zoe

      Great wording for “outer shell of beauty and youthful spirit.” I agree that reading it over helped the understanding of the sonnet incredibly!

  21. Hannah M.

    At first when I read the sonnet “my Mistress’ eyes” by SHakespeare I had np idea what I was doing. As we learned more and more about sonnets I began to get an idea of what we were supposed to do. Over February break I practiced the sonnet line by line. As I kept practicing I began to notice that I was starting to memorize the words. Memorizing this sonnet helped me realize the different parts of literature and poems. I realized that to be able to grab the audiances attention you need to speak with emotion and feeling. My mistress eyes taught me that its not the beauty on the outside but it’s also the beauty on the inside.


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