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Sonnet 18 is one of Shakespeare’s best-known sonnets. You can listen to acclaimed poet James Fenton reciting it aloud on the Poetry Archive ‘Shakespeare 400’ page. From the beginning of this sonnet, it is obvious that Shakespeare is addressing someone directly, perhaps the object of his affections. What imagery does he use here? You can also listen to a recitation from the BBC by the actress Lorna Laidlaw here. Which similarities and differences do you find in the recitations?

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Modern English Original spelling

Oxford English Dictionary (OED) Links Off

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimmed:

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st,

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee

SHall I compare thee to a Summers day?
Thou art more louely and more temperate:
Rough windes do shake the darling buds of Maie,
And Sommers lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heauen shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d,
And euery faire from faire some-time declines,
By chance, or natures changing course vntrim’d:
But thy eternall Sommer shall not fade,
Nor loose possession of that faire thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wandr’st in his shade,
When in eternall lines to time thou grow’st,
So long as men can breath or eyes can see,
So long liues this, and this giues life to thee.