Sonnet 18: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day (ASL)

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Image description: A white young man is standing in front of a orangish/whitish wall. He is wearing a white T-shirt, grey-ish pants, and a brown belt. He is signing “DAY.”

Purpose: I translated this poem because it is commonly studied in school, and I wanted to provide access for the Deaf community. I also strongly recommend that you check out Crom Saunders’s fantastic translation and my previous translation some years ago, which are more faithful to the English text.

Translation notes: This translation is strongly based on imagery, meaning I butchered some of the key lines. I will list some of my biggest crimes. First, I totally simplified “By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;” because I did not think it was important to point out that some ‘fair’ dies by chance and others by time. Second, I omitted “eye of heaven” and “gold complexion” and just said it was the sun. Third and perhaps the most severe, I showed Death actually killing off the beloved at one point when, in fact, Death never claimed the beloved. In retrospect, I could have presented the metaphor of Death being a tree and the beloved being some kind of magic beanstalk growing past the tree. Perhaps you will do that … hint, hint.

Title: Sonnet 18 (Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day)

Author: William Shakespeare

English text:

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.

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