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A Beauty That Surpasses Nature Essay

1558 words - 7 pages

Beauty is very important in today’s society. Many people fear that they will lose their good looks as they age. They begin to wear make-up or even go to the extremes of plastic surgery. However, in William Shakespeare’s poem, “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day,” Shakespeare plays on the idea of beauty that surpasses age and even death. Through the simple language, tones, and theme in Howard Moss’s poem, “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day,” the meaning of Shakespeare’s poem is made more clear. William Shakespeare’s poem, “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day” uses diction, personification, theme, and tone to illustrate the narrator’s feelings about the everlasting beauty of a ...view middle of the document...

Although Shakespeare and Moss have different approaches to the complexity of their poems, they still share similar themes.
The themes of Shakespeare’s piece are eternal beauty and love. Throughout the poem the narrator touches on each of these elements when describing the person. The theme of eternal beauty is especially prevalent in the couplet, “So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, / So long lives this, and this gives life to thee” (13-14). The narrator is saying that the person’s beauty will forever be recognized as long as this poem is read. This statement follows the narrator stating that the person’s beauty will never fade like the summer’s beauty fades. In Moss’s poem there is a similar theme of eternal beauty, but it is not expressed in such a poetic and romantic way. He says, “After you’re dead and gone, / In this poem you’ll live on” (13-14). Moss is once again using more common and simplified language to get his point across. In these lines he is saying literally that when the person is dead and gone they will continue to live within this poem. Moss’s poem helps reveal this theme of Shakespeare’s because it is a simplified version. Shakespeare’s theme of love shadows the entire poem. The narrator’s infatuation with the person is the clearest in the lines, “But thy eternal summer shall not fade, / Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st; / Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade” (9-11). He is reinstating the theme of eternal beauty, but there is so also a sense of eternal love within those lines. He is claiming that this person is so beautiful that it is impossible for them to fade, even with death. In Moss’s poem the theme of love is less evident. However, through the simplicity of Moss’s words it is shown that this interpretation of Shakespeare’s poem is valid.
The use of diction in Shakespeare’s poem sheds much light on the deeper meaning of the text. He uses specific words and word order to build specific images throughout the poem. In line one, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” (1), Shakespeare is asking a rhetorical question. The image of a summer’s day is formed immediately. He then moves on saying, “Thou art more lovely and more temperate” (2). In this line Shakespeare answers his rhetorical question and creates this competition between a summer’s day and the person by saying that the person is more lovely and temperate. In the next lines, “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” (3-5), Shakespeare uses personification and creates images of summer. In line three he personifies the wind giving it the ability to shake the darling buds of May. This personification specifically creates the image of a summer’s breeze that wisps past the flowers that are in bloom for the summer. In lines four and five, he states that summer is too short and acknowledges the sun. He personifies the sun by referring to it as...

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