A Word Is Worth a Thousand Pictures? - Shakespeare\'s Sonnet 18 and Keats\' Grecian
Urn


Shakespeare\'s sonnet 18 ("Shall I compare thee to a summer\'s day?") and
Keats\' "Ode on a Grecian Urn" were written with a common purpose in mind; to
immortalize the subjects of their poems by writing them down in verses for
people to read for generations to come. By doing so, both of the poets are
preserving the beauty of the subjects, which are the young friend of Shakespeare
and Keats\' "Grecian Urn."
Beginning with Sonnet 18, and continuing here and there throughout the
first major grouping of sonnets, Shakespeare approaches the problem of
mutability and the effects of time upon his beloved friend in a different
fashion. Instead of addressing the problem of old age, he emphasises his
friend\'s attributes:
"Shall I compare thee to a summer\'s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate... (lines 1-2)" Though time and
death work together to rob man, and particularly the friend, of his youth and
beauty putting ugly wrinkles in his face and finally causing his death, the
friend\'s beauty can be made immortal in spite of the ravages of time and death.
Shakespeare asserts that his poetry will survive the destructive effects and,
since the subject of this poetry is his friend\'s beauty, it will immortalize his
beloved friend\'s beauty. The poet can make the young man immortal in his verse

Category: English