Sonnet 18

i was here

Sonnet 18 is most well-known for its famous opening line, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” It’s a favorite of young lovers, for in it the poet promises that his sweetheart’s beauty will never fade because his words will provide a lasting testimony to it. A lovely sentiment to be sure, but the sonnet speaks to much more than love or beauty. It speaks to legacy. The last two lines are my favorite:

“So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,/So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”

These words resonate with me because they speak to the power of self-expression. In this sonnet, Shakespeare gives voice to every artist’s heart. From the cave dwellers to the Egyptian pharaohs, from local graffiti artists to the nearly 180 million bloggers around the world, we all have the desire to make a lasting impression.

Every individual with a pen, a palette, or a piano longs for the opportunity to share her voice with the world, to give her creative spirit wings and watch it soar above the monotony of everyday life. With each chapter, lyric, and brushstroke, we anticipate that moment when we can write on history’s wall: I was here.

That’s why we continue to strive in the creative process–not so our names will appear in a font as bold and elegant as Shakespeare’s, but simply to experience the satisfaction of scribbling it somewhere on the same page.

~Vickie Price Taylor


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