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Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 and “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

Introduction

The verses “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost and Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare are among the most beautiful. They show poets’ ability to capture the essence of life. They depict the inevitability of choice and eternity; meditate about the most philosophical sides of life.

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Eternal Life of Poetry in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18

Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” introduces the reader into a unique and metaphorical world of poetry. The opening line poses a question, and the answer lies in the end. Poet’s beloved is compared to “summer’s day”, but the point of the use of simile here is that the beloved is better than summer, the advantage is that the beloved is “more lovely and more temperate“. The speaker also enumerates drawbacks of summer “summer’s lease hath all too short a date” and “Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines“. The image of the beloved is invoked variously as something quite beyond description (Schalkwyk, 2002, p. 10). Thus, human beauty is more permanent than summer. And love is eternal because it is not broken by occasional winds and the change of season. The beloved being has a cheerful and sunny disposition or “gold complexion”.

Beautiful things fade, and “nature’s changing course untrimmed”, nothing can last forever. And one more distinct feature of the beloved being is that the beauty will last forever when summer is fleeting. The speaker’s verse resembles the power of God himself to make a man eternal: in the final couplet, the poem achieves this potency through the power of the readers over the generations (Moisan & Bruster, 2002, p. 188). The speaker makes the beauty of his beloved being live forever creating a poem about this beauty: “So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, / So long lives this, and this gives life to thee”. The power of poetry is beyond the grave and poetry is considered immortal. Thus, comparing the beauty of his beloved to summer, the beloved embodies summer and is even more powerful. The speaker’s love is powerful too. Even death cannot abridge it. The poet’s love lives in the written word. Through the sonnet, it will continue for future generations. And “eternal summer” will last as long as other people read this poem.

The metaphor “in eternal lines to time thou growest” grafts the beloved to time by means of words, poems. The poet glorifies the perfect beloved in hope that until mankind exists; his poetry will live on along with his muse.

Road of Life

Robert Frost possesses three elements of his work that distinguish it from others: originality, realism, and nationalism (Wilcox 28). In one of his most famous poems “The Road, Not Taken” the poet describes tough choices people make in their life. Life is depicted as a road. And the traveler comes to a fork in the road and decides which way to go. He chooses the road “less traveled by”. But this choice is interfaced with regret. The words “sorry” and “sigh” show that the traveler repents that he leaves other possibilities behind. Taking one road means rejecting the other. And there is no return. The traveler will regret “ages and ages hence”.

The poem is rich in contradictions. When the traveler comes to the fork in the road, he expresses his desire to follow both ways. But it is impossible. “Then took the other, as just as fair/And having perhaps the better claim,/Because it was grassy and wanted wear”, but after the poet says that roads are worn about the same. Maybe, “less traveled by” road makes travelers turn back to a threaded path. The words about the road “wanted wear” present personification. “And that has made all the difference” – the choice is made and let us hope for the better.

Frost managed, remarkably, to create a poem that endlessly enforces one’s own relentless intuition of sameness and difference, that feeling of being utterly mundane and prosaic and utterly alien at the same time, of looking and sounding and acting like every other regular Joe, of suffering from a conviction of indistinguishability, while in the same instance suffering isolation beyond which it is impossible to go (Wilcox & Barron, 2000, p. 37). Thus, the speaker tells a story about two nearly identical roads, both grassy and covered in fallen leaves. The lethal irony of the last stanza—“I shall be telling this with a sigh / Somewhere ages and ages hence, …”— consisting of a prediction whose truth is prefigured in the present by the poem itself: he already knows where he will end up, and “all the difference” can have made no difference (Wilcox & Barron, 2000, p. 37).

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But this poem is not that very gloomy. It is comfortable and may even support pioneering (Wilcox & Barron, 2000, p. 211). The choice is inevitable and depends only on the traveler. The “important issues in life: about the nature of choice, of decision, of how to go in one direction rather than another and how to feel about the direction you took and didn’t take” are considered in this poem (Pritchard).

In conclusion, we see that these two poems are original and exemplify the best traditions of poetry. Both of them describe the life and both end in hope. Shakespeare claims that his verses will live forever; Frost hopes that the choice made in the road will be correct. Both poems contain words, which illustrate their themes the best. poetic devices, such as similes, metaphors, epithets introduce the images of the poems and prove laconic and accurate use of language. Despite different interpretations, these poems belong to masterpieces of classic literature.

Reference List

Moisan, T., & Bruster, D. (2002). In the Company of Shakespeare: Essays on English Renaissance Literature. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.

Pritchard, W. H. On “The Road Not Taken”. Web.

Schalkwyk, D. (2002). Speech and Performance in Shakespeare’s Sonnets and Plays. Cambridge University Press.

Wilcox, J., & Barron, J. N. (2000). Roads Not Taken: Rereading Robert Frost. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, October 30). Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 and “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/shakespeares-sonnet-18-and-the-road-not-taken-by-robert-frost/

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StudyCorgi. (2021, October 30). Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 and “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. https://studycorgi.com/shakespeares-sonnet-18-and-the-road-not-taken-by-robert-frost/

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"Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 and “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost." StudyCorgi, 30 Oct. 2021, studycorgi.com/shakespeares-sonnet-18-and-the-road-not-taken-by-robert-frost/.

1. StudyCorgi. "Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 and “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost." October 30, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/shakespeares-sonnet-18-and-the-road-not-taken-by-robert-frost/.


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StudyCorgi. "Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 and “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost." October 30, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/shakespeares-sonnet-18-and-the-road-not-taken-by-robert-frost/.

References

StudyCorgi. 2021. "Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 and “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost." October 30, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/shakespeares-sonnet-18-and-the-road-not-taken-by-robert-frost/.

References

StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 and “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost'. 30 October.

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