Sonnet IV

I could compare you to a summer’s day,
Or, if you prefer, to a winter’s night.
I could compare you to how children play,
Or what they bring in pleasure and delight.
Perhaps your tastes prefer the sugars sweet,
Or would the feel of velvet touch you more?
Perhaps the sounds that hearts of lovers beat,
Or twinkling stars are stuff that you care for?
Pick any flower blooming in the spring,
Or any leaf that’s turning in the fall,
Pick stones of worth, bright rainbows, songs birds sing,
Or oceans, clouds – pick anything at all!
All lovely things I can compare you to,
But there’s not one that can compare to you.

08.10.94 – 01.11.95

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Copyright by Minh Tan on listed dated of completion
and published in Perspectives, ISBN 0-9686250-0-2.

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Notes to this poem…

Jan 10 & 11 1995 turned out to be a few golden days in my poetry writing, apparently, at least for finishing off poems I really liked. Jan 10 saw completion of one stanza poem 006 that was one of my favourites to this day, and then completion of this poem on Jan 11 followed.

I liked this sonnet enough, though I know I didn’t think it anything spectacular among my output. However, if you’ve ever tried writing sonnets, any time you complete one it’s a small cause to celebrate. What made it special, ultimately, was that I was able to turn it into lyrics for the first song I ever wrote, ten years later, but more on that later.

The idea for this sonnet came from that most famous of Shakespeare’s sonnets, Sonnet XVIII (18), Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day. I don’t know how many times in English classes throughout the years I had to analyze that sonnet, but those exercises took away its beauty to me. I just liked reading it and getting the gist. I didn’t want to use 10 or more times the volume of prose to say what it meant with 100 times less meaning than the Bard’s words, but I had to.

In the summer of 1994, English classes forever done in my life, I was reading a small volume of Shakespearean sonnet by choice when I happened upon this sonnet once more, and the first thought that came to my head was why stop at or dwell on a summer’s day? I didn’t know it at the time but the way I thought was as of what the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality tests called an iNtuitive (N capitalized correctly), which meant I thought big picture, options, rather than the opposite, which was Sensing or details within that was being demonstrated in Sonnet XVIII. From that thought, came other ideas, the first of which was the easy opposite, a winter’s night, and it went on from there for two stanzas.

By the third stanza, I figured that was enough, so instead of giving details of some aspect of something to which I could compare the subject, I just went for broke and listed just the things, ending with pick anything at all. Why? Because I had the closing rhyming couplet that wrapped up the previous thoughts long before the poem was finished. I had the opening, the plan for development and the closing parts of this sonnet long before I went back to fill out the details. Typical iNtuitive way of doing things, really.

Unfortunately, that is as much as I could say of the story because I cannot remember the line I finished last, though I do remember the poem was not really written about anybody. There were some very beautiful girls in a few of my university classes who I very casually knew and I just thought about them and compared them to this and that until some images and rhymes worked themselves out, never caring or remembering who successfully inspired what in the poems. It was a great writing strategy I would use many times later on for other poems because in knowing these girls only very casually, I didn’t know anything negative about them so they were a little more perfect than they truly were. In other words, I only got to see the good side of them. They were beautiful and they were nice in our sparse and shallow contact in university, and that was all I knew. Ten years later, I employed the same strategy towards one girl in my choir, Allegra, to turn this poem into a song, which’s details, changes and merits I will discuss later when it will come up in chronological order. In the meanwhile, here is a glimpse of the lyrics for your perousal and comparison, appropriately enough.

Please click here to see the only ten sonnets I have ever written.

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THE COMPARISON SONG

I could compare you to a summer’s day,
Or, if you prefer, a winter’s night.
I could compare you to the moonlight haze,
Or the sun at dawn, noon or in twilight.
All lovely things I can compare you to,
But there’s not one that can compare to you.

I could compare you to the sweetest tune,
Or, if you prefer, the sweetest kiss.
I could compare you to a sacred rune,
Or the lores, that tell of eternal bliss.
All lovely things I can compare you to,
But there’s not one that can compare to you.

Choose any flower that blooms in the spring,
Or any leaf that turns in the fall.
Choose stars, or rainbows, angels, songs birds sing,
Or the sky, or sea – any thing at all!
All lovely things I can compare you to,
But there’s not one that can compare to you.

No, there’s not one that can compare to you.

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Copyright by Minh Tan 2005.

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