Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A rose by any other name


Well, here in Australia, it's almost the start of the new academic year. I thought it would be a good time to review some of the topics on our Grammar Gang blog and because it's just 2 days until St Valentine's Day, I want to take a look at my favourite Shakespearean sonnet.


Sonnet 18


Shall I compare thee to a Summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
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 oft' is his gold complexion dimm'd:
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd:

But thy eternal Summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;

Nor shall Death brag thou wanderest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breath, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee

Can you believe the length of this sentence? Does anyone want to 'have a go at' counting independent clauses? (Have a go at = attempt to, in Australian English usage.)

Of course, Shakespeare's use of punctuation is known as 'poetic licence' but I wonder if you all approve of his use of colons and semi-colons and if you would find it easier to read if he'd used more sentences with full-stops? (I know I would find it easier to read if he had.)

I asked my daughter to 'have a go at' writing the first 2 lines of the sonnet in her own words and this is what she came up with:

If I compared you with a day in summer, I'd have to say that you are even more beautiful and gentle'

She adds that this would be saying quite a lot, as she was born on December 1st, the first day of Summer which is also her favourite season!

I then asked a young guy who lives in our street for his interpretation of the first two lines which were:

You're dead gorgeous and really hot but not that extreme sort of hot that you get on a day in a heatwave'.

We'll, we'd love to hear your version of the first 2 lines or better still, of the whole poem so post away!

Virginia

8 comments:

Breeze said...

With due permission (and to hell if you don't), I want to compare you to a summer's day -- less hot but lovely nevertheless.

Summers are short and sweet but not you. After people are long done with your beauty, you will continue to live -- all wrinkled and withered, and mother many (lllegal?) sons. In all fairness, you will... Read More continue to glow-- with little help from fair and lovely*.

*A popular brand of fairness cream in India that promises to turn every dark skin to the kind of pink you see on Julia Roberts.

Anonymous said...

Full Poetaparaphrase:
More lovely, more temperate than a Summer’s day,
Fickle Summer shines, shivers, fades away;
You, forever, stay.

As Haiku
Dimming summer’s day,
Sending blazing sun fading,
You forever stay.

Sandeep said...

Wrote this in a hurry. The full sonnet, some other time. :-)

Summer lives on a nature-granted lease while beauty has leased out itself to you for Eternity.

Anonymous said...

Dear Breeze,
I really like your contribution! Tell me, does 'Fair and Lovely ' really work?
Virginia

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous Poetaparaphraser,
What a spectacular haiku! I think you've really captured the essence of the original poem here. How often do you write haikus, I wonder?
Virginia

Anonymous said...

Dear Sandeep,
Your interpretation of the first two lines is very spiritual. It somehow makes me think of Gerald Manly Hopkins or John Donne. I can't wait for the rest of the sonnet...
Virginia

Anonymous said...

How many independant clauses are there in this sonnet amyway?

Ding Ze Hao said...

I found (or discovered with doubts) ten independent clauses. Pray, would that affect much the interpretations of the sonnet or does it have to do with something clever?