Shakespeare and the twice faltering metaphor
February 11, 1999
The genius of a mistake
The great thing about William is that he can seemingly sing the praise of his lady, but in essence glorifies his own writing. In the Summer's Day poem, for instance he starts out with what seems a lovely exaltation, celebrating his beloved:
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Then in the next six lines he explains why the metaphor falls short on the side of the summer:Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimm'd;
Then in the next three lines he actually explains why his fair lady does NOT meet his standards as well, since she like the summer will fade, she will grow older and lose her fairness, and she will die. The metaphor also falls short on the side of his lady...But thy eternal summer shall not fade,Bear with me. I know that he seems almost to deny that his lady suffers from any defect, but the crucial line follows right after that:
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
The reason WHY his lady will "live forever" IS that she is celebrated in HIS poetry! It is not she that is celebrated but her image in his verse. It is not she that will live forever (Who is she anyway? Anyone knows?), but it are his lines multiplied in books, blackboards, college students' minds, the internet...
Alas, alas, those men... They are all the same.
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2000 11:39:34 +0100 From: Adam Boyes
To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Much ado about something... I read your analysis of Shakespeare's sonnet. I think you need to read it again and re-interpret....you have misunderstood a fundamental point. Anyway ciao for now Adam University of Warwick
Keep the criticism coming... All for the greater glory of Bill...
Despite the Oscar nominations I still recommend you to see the movie Shakespeare in Love.