In his sonnet, Shakespeare reflects the theme of time by mentioning various seasons of the year and comparing them to a girl’s age and appearance. Particularly, the poet equates his beloved one’s youth and beauty to “a summer’s day” (Shakespeare 1). Spring months, specifically May, according to the author, are not as charming and warm as summer ones due to their “rough winds” (Shakespeare 3). However, the poet does not only dwell on the topic of beauty in his sonnet. Shakespeare also touches upon the theme of fading and death. Still, while the poet admits that everything in this life comes to an end, he is convinced that his girl’s beauty will never disappear. Hence, both the temporal and metaphorical meanings of summer, when related to the main heroine, are reflected in the author’s confidence that her “eternal summer shall not fade” (Shakespeare 9).
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Contrary to Shakespeare, Hardy puts an emphasis on the process of aging and the wistful realization that one’s good looks are gradually deteriorating. The poet uses such phrases as “wasting skin” (Hardy 3), “heart had sunk” (4), “lonely wait… endless rest” (7) to express his melancholic state. Hardy, unlike Shakespeare, is rather pessimistic in his expectations of what the future holds for him. Shakespeare is confident that beauty will not disappear even death brags the girl “wanderest in his shade” (11). Meanwhile, Hardy is sure that time “steals” his youth and beauty gradually (10). Therefore, both poets resort to the theme of time in their pieces, but their expectations of the future are quite dissimilar. Shakespeare is optimistic and believes that true beauty will never fade, whereas Hardy is pessimistic and expects his hero’s condition to worsen with the years to come.
Hardy, Thomas. “I Look into My Glass.” Bartleby.com., n.d., Web.
Shakespeare, William. “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer Day.” Poetry Foundation, n.d., Web.