Discuss the time versus love conflict as presented by Shakespeare in his poem, ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’.

In Sonnet 18, Shakespeare depicts the time versus love conflict. Time can destroy the soft buds of May, even the beauty of the summer season is not everlasting. Every natural object is subjected to death and decay with the passing of time. Only the beauty of the poet’s beloved friend is immortal. The cold, cruel touch of death is unable to claim his beauty. The poet’s eternal lines will give him immortality which no ravage of time can ever take away. His memory will be made classic by the poet’s true love which is embodied in his poetry.

Comment on Shakespeare’s use of imagery in Sonnet No. 18.

The sonnet is designed and executed with masterly artistry and proves Shakespeare’s unique command over poetic images. The image of ‘eternal summer’ confirms the poet’s confidence in the permanence of his love. The ephemerality of nature’s beauty is reflected in the expression ‘summer’s lease’, which actually indicates the brevity of life and youth. The image the darling buds of May’ suggests the graceful natural element of nature which is not either spared from the decay caused by time. “Sometime too hot… gold complexion dimmed-this imagery hints at the inconstancy of nature, even of the summer season which has a short-lived ‘lease’ in the cycle of the season. This stands in contrast to the unchangeability of his friend’s beauty which is beyond the reach of the ravages of time. Then again his exclamation ‘Nor shall death… to time thou grow’st’ claims the dominance of his friend’s beauty over time. He says that his love for his friend has inspired him to write this sonnet, in which his friend will live forever, and his beauty will be cherished as long as mankind lives to read this sonnet. Thus the sonnet is written in perfect balance with his happy and devoted statements and the images drawn from the world of nature.

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