(Poem #71) Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day? (Sonnets XVIII)
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate: 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, And often is his gold complexion dimm'd; And every fair from fair sometime declines, By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd; But thy eternal summer shall not fade Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest; Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade, When in eternal lines to time thou growest: So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, So long lives this and this gives life to thee.
One of Shakespeare's best known sonnets, and IMHO one of his finest. The theme - the interplay between time, beauty and love - was a favourite of his, and one that he returned to repeatedly, exploring it via a number of metaphors and images (see, especially, Sonnet LV, "Nor marble, nor the gilded monuments" for another beautiful one). This particular sonnet has, incidentally, supplied the title for Bates' "The Darling Buds of May" - Shakespeare is probably the most fertile source of titles in general I've encountered. m.