How has Shakespeare celebrated masculine beauty, in the poem, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”

After much debate among the scholars, it is now generally accepted that the fair friend of Sonnet No. 18 is a male. The sonnets, 1-126 focus on the relationship between the poet and a ‘male friend of his. In this sonnet, the poet compares his friend’s beauty to that of a summer’s day but finds the simile inappropriate. The poet’s verse helps to preserve the friend’s youth and charm and grants him immortality with the help of different imagery in each quatrain. Initially, the poet clearly declares that his friend’s beauty has an ‘eternal summer’ which will never fade, though every fair from fair sometime declines’. In the concluding portion, he announces that death can never snatch away the beauty of his friend as he and his beauty will grow in the verse of the poet, as long as men live to read it. Thus, Shakespeare has celebrated the masculine beauty in this sonnet and this helped him to set an exceptional example of love-sonnets.

Comment on the last two lines of the sonnet.

The last two lines of the couplet form the concluding portion of Shakespeare’s Sonnet No.18- — “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” In these lines, the poet expresses his firm hope for keeping alive his friend’s beauty in this mortal world through the power of this verse. He finds more loveliness and serenity in his friend’s beauty than in the brightness of summer. He feels this beauty is imperishable because it is subjected to no decay or destruction although “every fair from fair sometime declines” with the changing course of time. The cold embrace of death is unable to claim his friend’s beauty and drag him down to the dark, lifeless realm. The poet’s friend will, in fact, live forever and thrive through his verse. As long as the human race survived this very sonnet written in praise of his friend, will remain to celebrate his friend’s beauty. It will give him an eternal life which no ravage of time can ever take away.

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