Literary Devices Literary Devices    

Lesson 14: Metaphor: Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day (Sonnet 18)

by William Shakespeare

Performer: Librivox - Chris Caron

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 dimmed;

And every fair from fair sometime declines,

By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimmed;

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,

Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,

Nor shall death brag thou wand'rest 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.


Shall I compare you to a summer's day?

You are more beautiful and moderate than a summer's day.

The winds shake the buds of leaves and flowers in May,

Summer ends too quickly.

The sun is sometimes too hot,

Sometimes clouds cover the sun;

Everything beautiful fades,

Either from bad luck or the natural passage of time;

Your youthful beauty will never fade,

You will never lose the loveliness you own,

Death will not get you,

You will live forever in my poem.

As long as people can live and see,

My poem will keep you alive.

    Literary Devices Literary Devices    

Lesson 14: Metaphor: Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day (Sonnet 18)

by William Shakespeare

Performer: Librivox - Chris Caron


Study the poem for one week.

Over the week:

  • Read or listen to the poem.
  • Review the synopsis.
  • Read about the poet.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.


William Shakespeare's 'Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day,' is an extended metaphor, comparing the narrator's true love to a summer's day and finding the summer's day lacking. The narrator consoles his beloved that she will live forever through his poem.


Poets often use literary devices, defined as 'rules of thumb, convention, or structure that are employed in literature and storytelling.'

The nine literary devices we'll study include:

  1. Rhyming
  2. Alliteration
  3. Similes
  4. Metaphors
  5. Personification
  6. Foreshadowing
  7. Allusion
  8. Hyperbole
  9. Onomatopoeia

Metaphors use a word or phrase to refer to something that they are not to make an implied comparison.


Activity 1: Recite Poem Information

Recite the title of the poem and the name of the poet.

Activity 2: Study the Poem Picture

Study the poem picture and describe how it relates to the poem.

Activity 3: Recite the Poem

Practice reciting the poem aloud.

Activity 4: Identify the Metaphors in the Examples

Read aloud the metaphors below. Note that metaphors make a comparison like a simile but do not use 'as' and 'like.'

  • The old museum curator is an old dinosaur. (curator compared to dinosaur)
  • Sally is a fraidy cat. (girl compared to cat)
  • Her bedroom was a disaster zone. (bedroom compared to disaster zone)
  • The vampire grinned, revealing bone white daggers. (teeth compared to daggers)
  • His garden was paradise on earth. (garden compared to a heavenly paradise)

Activity 5: Identify the Rhyme Scheme

Review the poem and identify the pattern of its rhyming scheme. (e.g. ABBACDCD, etc.)

Activity 6: Identify Metaphors

Review the poem excerpts, and identify the metaphors.

Name the pairs of elements that the metaphors compare.

  • Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
  • But thy eternal summer shall not fade.

Activity 7: Complete Book Activities   

  • Click the crayon above, and complete pages 43-45 of 'Elementary Poetry 5: Literary Devices.'


  1. 'Metaphors.' Wikipedia. n.p.