Shall I Compare Thee is a sonnet written by William Shakespeare, that compares a mystery person to summer, describing them as “lovely”, and “more temperate” than a summers day. At no point in the poem are we given a clue as to whether the person being described in the poem is male or female, or any other description as to their appearance or form. He says that their beauty will live on forever, as his poem gives life to them “So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, so long lives this, and this gives life to thee. ” The ‘this’ he refers to is his poem.
First Love is a love poem written by John Clare, it is describing someone’s lover; however the language would suggest that unlike Shall I Compare Thee, the lover in First Love does not yet know the person he is talking about. There is not really a relationship between him and the woman he stares at, which is given through impression that it was love at first sight. He was “struck” by love rather than slowly getting to know his lover. In Shall I Compare Thee, the lover likens his lover to a beautiful, warm summer’s day “Shall I Compare Thee to a summer’s day, thou art more lovely and more temperate.
He says that unlike summer, their beauty will never fade, “But thy eternal summer will not fade. ” This shows that he believes the pure beauty and youth of his lover will never cease because he has recorded it in him poem. In this poem Shakespeare slowly builds the image of his lover into that of a perfect being, the lover is at first compared to summer, but later on an effective metaphor is used in saying that they are summer, “But thy eternall Sommer shall not fade. ” This gives the impression that the poet can only describe this person as pure perfection and not only compare them to it.
The poet’s response to such intense delight and beauty is to guarantee that his lover will be forever in human memory, remembered for their absolute beauty even well after death. On the other hand in First Love the lover’s life is suddenly turned to clay, this suggests it is all of a sudden, hard and life is all at a standstill. The poets love interest is unintentionally in control, and in the first stanza his body has been completely taken over by the first sight of her “And when she looked, what could I ail? My life and all seemed turned to clay. ” This image of clay again portrays the poet unable to move, frozen by love.
Shall I Compare Thee is a sonnet, consisting of four stanzas, each of three quatrains and a final couplet composed in iambic pentameter with the rhyme scheme, ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. Unlike this, First Love consists of three stanzas and comprises of a rhyme scheme of ABAB CDCD. First Love is a lyrical poem; this means that rather than portraying characters and actions, it addresses the reader directly. This means it clearly portrays the narrators own feelings, states of mind and perceptions. Therefore we get a clear insight into the narrator’s thoughts. “I could not see a single thing. Words from my heart did start… This shows how the poem is an effective window into the speaker’s deepest thoughts and innermost feelings.
Both poems use an array of poetic devices such as metaphors, “is loves bed always snow? ” In this quote from First Love, the speaker compares love to snow, implying it is cold and harsh. This poem also uses alliteration to add emphasis to points, “blood burnt around my heart” is a good example of how alliteration effectively adds emphasis. In this case the “burnt” adding emphasis to the pain, giving a clear picture of the painful, intolerable ‘heat’ of the pain he felt. In Shall I Compare Thee, another device is used; an echo.
This adds emphasis as it stresses the point repeatedly, “this” is repeated throughout the last lines of the poem, “So long lives this and this gives life to thee. ” In First Love, the intention of the poem is to convey the emotions of the narrator, his feelings of love and despair, as he has fallen in love with someone he can never have. The poem is successful in conveying his emotions and making the reader empathise. Also in First Love, the author uses simple wording and imagery to create a truly unhappy scene. For example “my life and all turned to clay” is an illustration of his life stopping because he cannot talk to his desired girl.
An image like “my heart has left its dwelling place” represents his feeling of ‘losing his heart’ to this women. This is rather different to Shall I Compare Thee, where the poet does not give a sense of unexpectedly falling in love, but instead gives the impression that the narrator has studied his love. Therefore instead of going on immediate reactions, has thought thoroughly about what he wants to say. Shall I Compare Thee is a poem that is, again trying to convey the narrators feelings towards someone, but is done very differently. The lover is simply praising his love and their beauty, rather than trying to tell a story.