Shakespeare Sonnets Response- Galacy Wei

1. Choose one poem and read it 3 or 4 times, and at least once out loud. Try to write a literal translation (not in poetry/verse) that gives a sense of the meaning. That literal translation will be the beginning of your post. The rest of the post should then explain what choices you made and what was difficult about doing this exercise.

Shall I compare you to a summer’s day? You are lovelier and gentler than it. Summer winds are rough and summer days are short. The sun is sometimes too hot and other times it is too dim. Everything beautiful eventually becomes ugly either by chance or like nature and the seasons, it always changes. But you are like an eternal summer; the beauty you have never fades. Even in death your beauty isn’t overshadowed “once you’re captured in my eternal verses”. As long as men can breathe or can see, this poem will live forever and you, along with it.

The first line of this sonnet is legendary as one of Shakespeare’s most famous lines. It also happens to be the easiest line to translate. The whole line is practically in modern English; only “thee” isn’t. The next three lines are pretty straight forward as well. It’s comparing the person of interest to summer; how this person is better than summer because there are rough winds during summer and summer’s duration is too short. The two lines following is where it begins to get more complicated because Shakespeare begins using metaphors. The “eye of heaven” usually will refer to two things, the moon or the sun. Since this eye of heaven is referred to as hot and has a gold complexion, I’m pretty sure it’s the sun. The next two lines were confusing too because  of the lines “every fair from fair declining” or what “nature’s changing course untrimm’d” meant. I was pretty sure that “fair” meant beauty and not justice in this situation so if this fairness is declining, then it must mean that beauty is “declining” or getting ugly. When I think of “nature’s changing course”, I think of seasons and how it’s always changing consistently and it’s natural. To be untrimmed to be uncut, so the first thing I think of is a circle or loop, which makes sense with the seasons since the seasons exist in a loop, a cycle. The two lines after are more straight forever. After Shakespeare described how summer is unpleasant and how beauty is temporary, he tells us how this person of interest is unlike all of that. This person is external, the beauty he “owns” is always in his possession or immortal. The following two lines, in my opinion, is hardest to decipher. The line “Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade” is weird because death is personified to have a shade or shadow, so there’s no actually shadow anyone is walking in. I thought it was a play on words on how even if this person dies, he won’t be in death’s shadow because his beauty isn’t overshadowed. I literally just stared at the lie, “When in eternal lines to time thou growest” for 20 minutes because I was clueless as to what “to time thou growest” meant. Growest isn’t even a word in the dictionary (I tried looking it up). In addition, the way the line is structured is grammatically confusing. So I cheated and looked to sparknotes and that’s why there’s quotations in my translation because it comes directly from sparknotes. Finally the last two lines were much easier. The first of the two is in modern English so it was clear-cut. The only thing that needed figuring out in the second line is what the “this” referred to. I assumed it referred to the poem itself since in the lines before, he mentions the eternal lines, or verses, that he’s writing.

4 thoughts on “Shakespeare Sonnets Response- Galacy Wei

  1. I think that the poem was throught to be more deep than the season. From the way I read it, the summer was sweet but the winds made it rough, then it is said to be ugly thorugh seasons change. I think this can be talking about a person because people change and sometimes someone can be sweet but bitter at the same time. I like your overview of how you expressed the poem from your view though.

  2. Your translation is very similar to the way that I thought of this sonnet. I like how you carefully explained why you chose to replace certain words. Now that you have mentioned the meaning of “When in eternal lines to time thou growest,” it starts to make sense how he is saying that his poem will help make his love last forever.

  3. your translation was pretty much what I understood it to be except like michael and jesselyn said I think it was meant to hold a deeper meaning of love. That last line had me so confused too, I had to type it into google to get an idea.

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