The first poem that I am going to write about is, “Shall I Compare Thee To a Summer’s Day?” (poem 1) by William Shakespeare. This is Shakespeare’s 18th sonnet and is one of the best-known sonnets in English Literature.
Poem 1 is about a man who compares his lover to a summer’s day; he uses the summer and the weather to emphasise how beautiful his lover is. The poet compares his lover to a summer’s day because everyone prefers the summer to any other season. The writer didn’t compare his lover to a winter’s day because it would seem that the writer didn’t like his lover if he had compared her to the rain or to the fog. I think that the poet is trying to convey his lover as beautiful and that another woman couldn’t compare with her, the phrase “Thou art…more temperate” emphasises this. She will be beautiful forever too in Shakespeare’s mind.
The first four lines are a logical argument to prove that a summer’s day is inferior to his lover, she is “more lovely and more temperate” He also sees that the summer is more unpredictable than she is, “Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May”. He notes as well that the summer doesn’t last as long as her beauty. “And summer’s lease hath all too short a date” He shows this contrast between his lover and the summer. He also conveys that the summer isn’t always beautiful.
Faults are pointed out- for example the weather in lines five and six (the sun can be too hot at times). “Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines” or it can simply not shine at all, “And often is his gold complexion dimmed”. This makes a poor comparison to his love because it is totally different too. “Thou art….more temperate” The poet is contradicting his own words.
The quotation “nature’s changing course” refers to the fact that the weather won’t stay the same for long. Summer turns to autumn eventually and this will bring back the bad weather. Whatever we try to do we can never stop this cycle. “Nor shall death brag thou wonder’st in his shade” is a personification which makes death sound scary. The poet leads us to believe that death will not come between him and his lover. The word “brag” suggests that the poet thinks that death teases human beings. The poet also suggests that his lover’s beauty can never be killed. The “eternal lines of time” might mean that his lover’s beauty will never fade and this will enable his love to grow. The comparison with the summer is very effective as the poet says that the summer doesn’t last as long as his love: “eternal lines” might also mean lines of poetry which people will read for years and this will allow his love to grow.
“This” in the lost line refers to the poet’s love towards his lover which is an incentive to live. It also might mean that his love for her is everlasting.
The main point that the poet is trying to stress is that his love is unchangeable and so the line “so long as men can breathe or eyes can see” means that his love for his lover is eternal.
I think that the main idea (the theme) in this poem is Shakespeare’s love and the effect time has on it. Shakespeare points out that his love for his lover will last as long as he lives. Shakespeare used a conventional form of poetry to praise poetry and his beloved by using the form of the sonnet. He boasted that both would be preserved nearly eternally. Five hundred years later, no one refutes his boast.
The second poem that I am going to write about is “First Love” (poem 2) by John Clare. John Clare was born in Northamptonshire in 1793. He had little schooling and left school at the age of eleven, he was mainly self-taught. Many of his poems are about nature and the seasons. He first published his poetry in 1820, aged 21 and he was married in the same year to Martha Turner, although he was still in love with his first girlfriend, Mary Joyce. He was admitted to an asylum for the insane in 1837 and he escaped in 1841 looking for his first love, Mary Joyce – whom he believed to be his wife. He wrote the poem in 1841, but it gives no hint of the pressures he must have been under at the time.
The poem is about a boy who falls in love with a girl, who doesn’t realise it at first but does by the end. The title “First Love” is very appropriate as the poem is about someone’s first love. The first and second lines tell us that this is love at first sight “love so sudden”. The simile comparing the girls face “to a sweet flower” is very appropriate as this shows us how beautiful the boy thinks the girl is. The poet uses the word sweet two times in the poem, which suggests that the boy thinks that the girl is very sweet.
When the poet realises that he has fallen in love with the girl his face went “deadly pale” and his “legs refused to walk away”. There are powerful verbs in the first two stanzas such as “struck”, “stole” “rushed” and “burnt”. Most of the verbs help to describe how much the boy loves the girl. The phrase “blood rushed to my face” shows us how excited he was and suggests that he is very embarrassed when the girl looked back at him.
The lover’s confusion is emphasised in the second stanza as the poet can only think about his lover and nothing else. He says that she has blinded him with her beauty, “And took my sight away”; the poet says that he couldn’t see anything apart from her and “I could not see a single thing,” suggests that the man is blinded by the beauty of the girl, he can’t see the trees of the bushes only his lover. “And blood burnt round my heart” suggests that he is so excited that he feels his heart pumping.
The paradox “Words from my eyes did start” suggests that the look from his eyes is trying to say something. “Seemed midnight at noonday” suggests that it is dark because her beauty blinded him. The two questions in the poem are rhetorical questions; they catch the attention of the reader. They make me want to answer the questions, these questions gets the reader involved in the poem.
The phrase that suggests that the girl doesn’t realise his love at first is “And when she looked what could I ail?”, this suggests that the girl wasn’t aware of the boy at first. I think that “And love’s appeal to know” is the time when the girl realises that the boy loves her, after finding out that the isn’t ill when his face turns back to it’s normal colour.
His heart has been changed forever after finding his first love, and he feels the pain of unrequited love. His heart has moved to its new place and it will never return, “My heart has left its dwelling-place. And can return no more”
The rhyming pattern is the same in every stanza – a,b,a,b,c,d,c,d. The rhythm of the poem also follows the same pattern.
Both poems are similar in that they have been written to the lovers of the poets. Their main theme is love and how this has affected them. Both poets have used nature to compare with their lovers, Shakespeare has one long comparison, he compares his lover to a summer’s day while John Clare uses individual comparisons to nature ” Her face is bloomed like a sweet flower”
John Clare uses a more modern vocabulary than Shakespeare but this is expected as Clare wrote two centuries later than Shakespeare. The structure of the two poems are different, Poem 1 is a sonnet. Although the two poems are about love, Poem 2 is about someone’s first love while poem 1 might have been about someone’s love when they were older. Another contrast is that Shakespeare only writes about how beautiful he thinks his loved one is while Clare writes more about how his love affects him, “And blood rushed to my face”.
I liked both poems but “First Love” impressed me most because the poem is about young people.