One of Shakespeare’s most famous sonnets, Sonnet 18 tells us, straight-forward, how we see the people we love. Shakespeare, at first, compares his love to summer, then slowly reveals that his love is his summer. There is so much joy in loving in Sonnet 18, that Shakespeare summarizes in his last two lines that the only way to preserve the beauty of his love is to immortalize it thru his verse.
Shakespeare is right, as always. “So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, so long lives this and this gives life to thee” emphatically means, “As long as people can breathe and see, and as as long as this sonnet is read, you will live on forever.”
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 ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
Here’s an amazing rendition of Sonnet 18 by the eloquent Tom Hiddleston.