Sonnet 18

William Shakespeare

Edited by Jack Lynch

The copy-text is Shake-speares Sonnets Never Before Imprinted (London, 1609). I’ve regularized the use of i and j, u and v, but have otherwise preserved the spelling, capitalization, and punctuation of the original.

Shall I compare thee to a Summers day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough windes do shake the darling buds of Maie,
And Sommers lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d,
And every faire from faire some-time declines,
By chance, or natures changing course untrim’d:
But thy eternall Sommer shall not fade,
Nor loose possession of that faire thou ow’st, own
Nor shall death brag thou wandr’st in his shade,
When in eternall lines to time thou grow’st,
    So long as men can breath or eyes can see,
    So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.


Of a person, temperate means “not affected by passion or emotion, mild, forbearing” or “Showing self-restraint and moderation in action or conduct”; of a region or climate, “charaterized by mild temperature” (SOED).
The metaphor is a legal one: summer’s lease has a short term.
A difficult word. It can mean “not decorated or ornamented”; trim can also mean “make (a lamp, fire, etc.) ready for use by removig burnt material and adding fresh fuel” or “Adjust the balance of (a ship) by arrangement of the cargo” (SOED).
wander’st in his shade
An allusion to Psalm 23: “Yea, though I should walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me: thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me” (from the Geneva Bible).
The literal meaning seems to be lines of poetry, though perhaps with a suggestion of lines of descent of children.