The sonnet is made up of fourteen lines divided into three quatrains of four lines each and a couplet which consists of two lines. Shakespearean sonnets have a definite rhyme scheme which separates it from the Petrarch. Each of the three quatrains has its own end rhyme which alternates and a final two lines which share a similar end rhyme making a rhyme scheme of the English sonnet to be abab, cdcd, efef, gg.
Each of the quatrains is unique on its own in terms of ideas from the others but their close relationship is never lost. The initial quatrain introduces the subject matter with abab rhyme scheme. The second quatrain, on the other hand, gives a complication of subject matter and its rhyme scheme is cdcd. A thought is expressed by each of the quatrains with intensity in the couplet and is marked by a word that depicts change. For instance, in the sonnet above, Shakespeare uses but, so long as.
Another feature of the Shakespearean sonnet is the unmistakable meter which follows an iambic pentameter ending in a powerful rhyme. The three quatrains in the Shakespeare Sonnet each has a purpose, if the poem is broken. Even though its rhyme scheme is easy, the placement of the volta is flexible because of the form of the English sonnet. Shakespeare in his sonnets chose to place the turn at the third quatrain starting from the ninth line just like the Italian sonnet but has a choice if he wants to hold it up. This quatrain has pattern e-f-e-f. The couplet has a key role normally ending with a conclusion, extension or disapproving the stanzas above it and usually in way that is ironic.
Structurally, most sonnets express some particular themes that recur in almost all of them. Themes like love and time are seen in Shakespearian sonnets. Love is central in sonnets and is between a lover and the beloved while time is seen on the negative side of things as heartless and disastrous.
The poem begins with praise where the speaker admires his beloved companion who is beautiful and gives the difference between the young man and the summer’s day. Summer is shown as a horrible season with a lot of heat and dim complexion. In addition, winds are rough but the beloved is invariably gentle and calm. As summer nears its end, dates become short, as each fair occasionally declines. The last quatrain shows how the beloved is different from summer: the persona’s beauty will always last and never die and the speaker will remember it forever. The couplet summarizes and concludes the topic. The speaker is happy that his friend will live in the human mind because as long as mankind breathes and sees, his poetry will live on to make sure his friend forever remains immortal.
One major theme that is seen here is the severe damage that time has caused. The speaker’s power in the poem defies time and refuses to die, carrying with him the beauty his beloved friend to the future. In the poem, beauty is shown as immortal because it shall never grow faint. In addition, the eternal summer of the beloved is not going to fade any time soon. In the couplet, the speaker says that as long as sight exists, his friend will be immortal.
The poet expresses dismay in the poem. There is violent wind sand the summer is also disappointingly short. When there is sun during summer, it is too hot and is dim. This contrasts the description of the beloved in the first quatrain who is more temperate and whose summer sun will not fade hence will not give any disappointment to the speaker. In addition, love is also seen in the sonnet. The speaker is in love with a person who is steadily beautiful and even though beauty ends, the beloved’s love will not nor will death ever vanquish the beloved’s legitimate youth.
In the sonnet above, the poet has used figurative language in order to communicate the massage and the meaning to the reader. Personification has been used in the poem for instance summer is the personified item. It has been described as the shining eye of heaven with his gold complexion. The speaker has also given death the human quality to brag. The speaker says that death shall not brag but will eventually come which should not worry the beloved. The final line has compared the whole poem to a human quality of being able to live.
Imagery is an essential characteristic of the sonnet, which gives the reader vivid visions of the raised issues in the poem. The reader is able to have an image of the love the speaker has towards the beloved. The speaker, in line three, talks of “rough winds do shake darling buds of May” which in turns gives way for summer which the beloved is promised. This shows how life is full of struggles and can easily confuse the beautiful moments and that at times even the most hopeful segments comes with complications. Imagery has also used sense so as to deepen the understanding of the sonnet. For instance, sense of sight is seen in the summer’s day, hearing is manifested in the sound of the beloved’s voice. Wind invokes the sense of feeling.
As the sonnet starts, there is a metaphor. There is a comparison in the first line of the sonnet because the beloved has been compared to a warm day. The poem is metaphorical because most of the lines have compared the beauty of the beloved to the bright summer. For instance, even though the summer may be hot, love will never fade and the beloved will be memorized as long as the poem lives. Symbolism is another key figurative language. The sonnet itself symbolizes the homage to the beloved whose beauty is symbolized by summer. In the fifth line, “eye of heaven” symbolizes the sun which shines on the sunny season. The poet has also employed alliteration. The sound that has been repeated in the initial letter in every word is “l” in “long lives” and “f” in “fair from fair”. Shakespeare balances the conflicting terms in an antithesis in the final line.
The speaker in the sonnet is a person who has admired the beloved and talks about him as incomparable to summer because he is beautiful. The one who is being addressed is the audience of the speaker and is the beloved.
The relationship between form and content in the sonnet is clear. The two work together in a sonnet to impact on the meaning being passed across by the poet. In quatrain one, the poet explains how the subject is compared to the summer’s sun but as it progresses into the second quatrain the poet contrasts the beloved and says a lot of positive things about the subject such as being beautiful than summer’s day which has its own flaws such as being hot and winds which blow away the buds. The couplet settles the tension in the poem as the poet says that even if the beloved is dead, he still lives and is given life as long as the poem lives.
The poet’s use of language in the poem is worth discussing. The choices of words used in the poem to declare love to the beloved are well chosen. The poet declares love by telling the beloved how beautiful he is and forever he will be in the mind of the speaker. The poet uses perfectly chosen words and phrases which forms a unique syntax to describe the beloved and compares him with the summer season. Beauty and young age of the subject is marked by summer shining and carries the time of recommencement and tranquility. Optimism and prestige is designated by “heaven” in the fifth line. The couplet ends with words such as breath and lives which settles the circumstances in the poem. Each line in the sonnet is a clause on its own with a punctuation mark at the end hence this has an effect on pause. Phrases in the poem have been used to show the shortcomings of the summer as short and hot.