Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?
A famous poem by William Shakespeare. Get notes, short questions here. Follow them, prepare them, and Score outstanding results in HS Examination (WBCHSE). We have made this page according to the demands of the students. Here we have given some sample questions for the examination. We have tried to maintain the word- limit of the answers strictly. Hoping that this page will surely help the students to cope with English, the second language if he/she regularly visits this site. We are coming with more updates.
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About the Poet:
William Shakespeare, the famous poet, was born on 23rd April in 1564. His birthplace was Stratford-upon-Avon in England. He died on 23rd April in 1616.
The Theme of the poem:
The everlasting beauty of the poet’s friend is magically captured in the lines of the poem.
Title of the poem.
Ans: “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?” (Sonnet No 18) is one of the best sonnets of Shakespeare’s sonnet sequence. Actually, summer is the symbol of beauty, warmth, delight, and comfort. Here in this sonnet, the poet makes a comparison between the beauty of summer and that of his young friend. He asserts that the beauty of his young friend is more lovely and moderate than the beauty of summer. Also, the beauty of his friend has no tendency towards unpleasant extremes which summer has. His beauty is eternal. Death cannot overpower it. Even the beauty of Nature in summer is changeable, but the beauty of his friend is never changed. As the title finely highlights the main theme of the poem, it is an excellent choice.
Mention some virtues of the poet’s friend.
Ans: The poet, William Shakespeare, beautifully compares the beauty of his friend to the beauty of summer in his sonnet “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?”
Here in this sonnet the poet clearly says that the beauty of his friend is better than that of summer. To establish it, the poet gives some special qualities which make his friend lovelier. The young friend of the poet has attractive beauty whereas summer is not so beautiful as he is. He is calmer than summer. The beauty of summer is short-lived, temporary. It is subjected to decay. But the poet’s young friend’s beauty is everlasting and eternal. Even death cannot touch his friend’s beauty. Really, summer can’t stand in comparison to his friend.
How is the poet’s friend different from a summer’s day?
Ans: In the very opening line of the sonnet, the poet likes to compare the beauty of his friend to the beauty of a summer’s day. But there is a difference of degrees between them. His friend’s beauty is more lovely and temperate. The attacks of ‘rough winds’ destroy the beauty of summer. Sometimes summer’s beauty goes through extreme changes. Sometimes it is too hot, cloudy, stormy. But his friend’s beauty remains unchanged forever. Summer’s ‘lease’ is also very short. But his friend’s beauty is eternal. His beauty is preserved in the eternal lines of the poem. His beauty will never fade because this poem will provide his beauty with life.
“Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade.” – Who is ‘thou’? In what way will death be prevented from bragging?
Ans: Here ‘thou’ refers to the poet’s young and lovely friend .
While celebrating the beauty of his friend, the poet means to say that in this world there is none who can avoid death. All mundane (পার্থিব) things are subjected to decay and destruction. Naturally, his friend is no exception. But, just after that, the poet feels the power of the poem. The poet thinks that only his poem can make his friend eternal as the power of the poem is beyond (বাইরে) the reach (নাগাল) of death. So, if his beauty is inscribed (খোদাই করা থাকে) in the eternal (চিরন্তন) lines of verse (কবিতা), he shall remain (থাকবে) untouched (অস্পৃশ্য) by death.
Substance of the poem
Ans: In this poem, the poet William Shakespeare compares his friend to a summer’s day. The beauty of his friend is superior to the beauty of summer. Summer is fleeting. It is changeable. Rough winds shake the darling buds of May. The natural beauty of summer becomes upset. Its duration is also short-lived. Sometimes the ‘eye of heaven’ is too hot and sometimes it is dimmed. Every beautiful object loses its beauty. In contrast, the beauty of his friend is eternal and will never fade. He will continue to live through the immoral lines of the verse. So long people will live, his friend will live through verse.
What does the poet compare this young person to? Identify at least three qualities that make the person superior to the simile.
Ans: The sonnet ”Shall I compare thee to a summer’s Day” by William Shakespeare is a sincere tribute to the eternal beauty of his young friend. This young friend is compared to a summer’s day.
According to the poet, the beauty of his friend is more charming, temperate, and lasting than a summer’s day.
After all. the beauty of summer is subjected to decay and is very short-lived. The sweet buds of May are shaken by strong winds, the bright light of the Sun is often dimmed and every fair object loses its beauty.
But the beauty of his young friend shall never fade. His friend will never lose his fairness. Even Death will never be able to boast by taking him in his shade.
“Every fair from fair sometimes declines.” – What do the first and second ‘fair’ mean? How, according to the poet, does every fair decline from fair? What instances of such decline are given by the poet?
In the above-quoted line, the first ‘fair’ means ‘beautiful object or thing’ while the second ‘fair’ means ‘fairness or beautiful’.
According to the poet William Shakespeare, every fair declines from fair by chance, or nature’s changing course untrimmed.
According to the poet, with the passage of time, beautiful objects lose their beauty. The poet exemplifies that the beautiful buds of May are destroyed or shaken by rough winds. Sometimes the sun shines brightly, and sometimes, his golden colour becomes dimmed because of clouds. With such instances, the poet wants to show the changeable beauty of summer while his friend’s beauty is constant.
“Nor loose possession of that fair thou ow’st” – Which ‘fair’ is referred to here? Who will not lose possession of that fair? Why will he not lose possession of that fair?
Ans: Here in this sonnet “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?”, the ‘fair’ refers to the fair beauty of the poet’s friend. The beloved friend has incomparable physical beauty. He will never lose possessíon of this fairliness or beauty.
The poet’s loving friend and admirer will never lose possession of his fair look. The poet glorifies the beauty of his his friend. His friend has extraordinary charm and glamour. The poet poetizes on his beauty. As poetry knows no death, so his friend’s beauty will remain deathless.
“And this gives life to thee.” – What does ‘this’ refer to? Who is referred to by ‘thee’? How does ‘this’ give life?
Ans: In the poem “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?” by William Shakespeare, ‘this’ refers to the beautiful sonnet of Shakespeare.
Here ‘thee’ refers to the poet’s young friend whom the poet loves and praises much for his incomparable beauty.
The poet is much confident about the eternal power of his poetry. According to the poet, his poetry has the power to withstand the ravages of time. That is why he glorifies his friend in his poetry. It is a real fact that his friend will not be able to retain his physical glamour and beauty forever. But he will be immortalized through his poetry. The readers will appreciate his friend’s beauty from age to age. Thus, his poetry will give life to his young friend.
“When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st” – What are ‘eternal lines’? Who is address to? How will ‘thou grow’st’ in eternal lines?
Ans: In the sonnet “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day” by William Shakespeare, the ‘eternal lines’ are the writings of the poet.
Here in the Sonnet No. 18, the poet’s beloved friend is addressed to.
The poet William Shakespeare is much confident of the strength of his poetry. According to the poet, his poetry will definitely be enjoyed by future generations. In his poetry, the poet glorifies his beloved friend. The readers will read and relish his poetry and admire his friend, though physically he is no more. Thus the poet’s beloved friend will be immortalized through the power of poetry.
1. Who wrote the poem?
Ans: William Shakespeare, the famous English poet, wrote the poem.
2. What did Shakespeare compare his young friend to?
Ans: Shakespeare compared his young friend to a Summer’s day.
3. What does the poet mean by the phrase ‘the eye of heaven’?
Ans: The phrase ‘the eye of heaven’ refers to the sun.
4. Which season has the poet mentioned in Sonnet No.18?
Ans: The season mentioned in the Sonnet No.18 is summer.
5. What destroy the flowers of summer?
Ans: The ‘Rough winds’ destroy the flowers of summer.
6. How is the complexion of the sun?
Ans: The complexion of sun is golden.
7. What do you mean by ‘summer’s lease’?
Ans: The phrase ‘summer’s lease’ means summer’s duration.
8. Who is addressed to in this sonnet?
Ans: The poet has referred to Shakespeare’s young friend (either the Earl of Pembroke or the Earl of Southampton) here. There is no real identity of him.
9. Who will not brag that ‘thou wand’rest in his shade’?
Ans: Death will not brag that ‘thou wand’rest in his shade.’
10. What will make the poet’s friend eternal?
Ans: The eternal lines of the verse of Shakespeare will make the poet’s friend eternal.
11.What does the young friend possess?
Ans: The young friend possesses eternal beauty.
12. ‘So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.’- What is ‘this’ here?
Ans: Here ‘this’ is the sonnet of William Shakespeare.
13. “But thy eternal summer shall not fade”. – Who is ‘thy’ here?
Ans: Here in the poem “Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day?”, ‘thy’ refers to the young friend of the poet.
14. What is the meaning of ‘thy’?
Ans: The meaning of the word ‘thy’ is ‘your’.
15. What shakes the ‘the darling buds of May’?
Ans: Rough winds shake the ‘darling buds of May’.
16. What is suggested by “nature’s changing course” in the poem “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”
Ans: In the sonnet “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”, the phrase “nature’s changing course” suggests that all earthly objects are degenerated by time.
17. What will make the beauty of the poet’s friend eternal?
Ans: The lines of the sonnet “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”, by William Shakespeare, will make the beauty of the poet’s friend eternal.
18. “But thy eternal summer shall not fade.” – What does the word ‘summer’ refer to here?
Ans: Here in the sonnet “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” by William Shakespeare, the word ‘summer’ refers to the beauty of the poet’s friend.
19. Give the rhyme scheme of the sonnet “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”.
Ans: The rhyme scheme of the sonnet “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” by William Shakespeare is abab cdcd efef gg.
20. How is the gold complexion of the sun dimmed?
Ans: The gold complexion of the sun is dimmed by clouds.
21. What gives life to the poet’s friend in Shakespeare’s sonnet “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”
Ans: The verses of Shakespeare’s sonnet “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” give life to the poet’s friend.
22. Whose summer is eternal in Sonnet No. 18?
Ans: The summer or beauty of the poet’s friend is eternal in Sonnet No. 18.
23. In which month can the “darling buds” be seen?
Ans: The “darling buds” can be seen in the month of May.
24. Where will the poet’s friend grow?
Ans: The poet’s friend will grow in the eternal lines of the sonnet “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” by William Shakespeare.
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