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Sonetos

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In this article, we wanted to compare a sonnet by William Shakespeare (1564-1616) with one by Francisco de Quevedo (1580-1645). Here they are:

Sonnet 18: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

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.

****

Enseña cómo todas las cosas avisan de la muerte

Miré los muros de la patria mía,

si un tiempo fuertes, ya desmoronados,

de la carrera de la edad cansados,

por quien caduca ya su valentía.

Salíme al campo, vi que el sol bebía

los arroyos del hielo desatados;

y del monte quejosos los ganados,

que con sombras hurtó la luz al día.

Entré en mi casa: vi que amancillada

de anciana habitación era despojos;

mi báculo más corvo, y menos fuerte.

Vencida de la edad sentí mi espada,

y no hallé cosa en que poner los ojos

que no fuese recuerdo de la muerte.

****

Both sonnets have 14 verses, use perfect rhyme, and follow a similar structure. These are the main two differences:

-Verses in Shakespeare’s sonnet have 10 syllables, and the last one is stressed. Verses in Quevedo’s sonnet have 11 syllables, and the second-to-last is stressed.

-The rhyme scheme in Shakespeare’s sonnet is ABAB CDCD EFEFGG. In Quevedo’s, it’s ABBA ABBA CDECDE. These are very common sonnet rhyme schemes in English and Spanish respectively. It’s hard, though, to find an English sonnet that uses the Spanish rhyme scheme, and vice-versa.

Besides the differences, isn’t it cool how similar they are? Can you read both out loud?

Here are both sonnets along with their rhyme scheme:

[A] Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

[B] Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

[A] Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

[B] And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;

[C] Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

[D] And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;

[C] And every fair from fair sometime declines,

[D] By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;

[E] But thy eternal summer shall not fade,

[F] Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;

[E] Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,

[F] When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:

[G] So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

[G] So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

****

[A] Miré los muros de la patria mía,

[B] si un tiempo fuertes, ya desmoronados,

[B] de la carrera de la edad cansados,

[A] por quien caduca ya su valentía.

[A] Salíme al campo, vi que el sol bebía

[B] los arroyos del hielo desatados;

[B] y del monte quejosos los ganados,

[A] que con sombras hurtó la luz al día.

[C] Entré en mi casa: vi que amancillada

[D] de anciana habitación era despojos;

[E] mi báculo más corvo, y menos fuerte.

[C] Vencida de la edad sentí mi espada,

[D] y no hallé cosa en que poner los ojos

[E] que no fuese recuerdo de la muerte.