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.
Undoubtedly, the most famous of Shakespeare’s sonnet, Sonnet 116 reveals what true love is. Every line describes that “love is not love which alters when it alteration finds”, which means that love doesn’t just change when their are changes in life. It is an “ever-fixed mark”. “It is the star to every wandering bark.” It is a constant guide in our lives. Love surpasses beauty and mortality. Love is eternal.
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Get more of William Shakespeare’s sonnets.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning is famous for her poems and sonnets. This sonnet, famous around the world, talks about how true love is, in fact, immeasurable. True love is loving someone with your everything: grief and joy, and happiness and sorrow. True love survives even after death, as indicated in the last line.
How do I love thee?
Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.