Last Friday, December 27th, was my wife Nadine’s birthday. I decided to write a sonnet for her. I figured, how hard could it be? I’m a writer, right? So what if I’d never written a sonnet before. Was I successful? See for yourself:
Nadine’s Birthday Poem
A poem for Nadine’s birthday
– By Arie Kaplan
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate
Also, thou hast a body and flesh and blood and internal organs and a skeleton and hair and toenails
Whereas, a summer’s day is, you know, a time of day during the summer, and it has none of that “flesh-blood-skeleton-toenail” stuff.
Nor does a summer’s day actually take physical form in any finite way.
A summer’s day might be filled with any number of delightful physical THINGS.
A walk along the duck pond. That sort of stuff.
Ducks are physical objects, right? So is a pond.
But a summer’s day isn’t…it’s not…What am I trying to say? Help me out here…
A summer’s day is not encased in a body like a person is.
A summer’s day is not endowed with a psyche. It’s not self-aware.
A summer’s day doesn’t have emotions, opinions, wants, needs. URGES.
Does a summer’s day even know that it’s the daytime? No it does not.
And the concept of “day” is really just part of our artificial, manmade* way of marking time.
When it’s day where I am, maybe it’s night where you are.
Time is a construct.
So, you know, just to refresh: you and a summer’s day. Not really that much alike. The comparison is minimal at best.
Thou knowest what? Let’s start over.
Shall I compare thee to…wait.
I mean, come on.
Are you honestly telling me that there was a period in human history when comparing a woman to a summer’s day WASN’T a cliché? Like, did that work? Was that something men said to women to get their attention…AND IT WORKED? And how far back do you have to go to find a time when that DID work?
William Shakespeare wrote the ACTUAL “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” sonnet.
He lived from 1564-1616.
Comparing a woman to a summer’s day HAD to have been played out by that time. No?
I mean, even back then, I’m assuming Shakespeare’s in a pub with his buddies. And he’s like, “Hey guys, I’m thinking of writing this poem where I compare a woman’s beauty to…” And his friends are like, “Let me guess. A summer’s day?” And he’s like, “N-never mind…” And he just trudges off all frustrated because he can’t come up with a better metaphor. So this is what we’re stuck with.
You know what? How about “Shall I compare thee to a meat pudding? You’re both made of meat, but you wear it better.”
THERE. DONE. FIXED IT. I FIXED YOUR HORRIBLE AWFUL POEM, SHAKESPEARE, YOU IDIOT.
Anyway, Happy Birthday, Nadine.
* Okay, so maybe saying “manmade” in this day and age is considered a microaggression. But I didn’t intend it that way. Also, nobody says “humanmade.” This isn’t the world I wanted. It’s just the deeply flawed world I was born into. And so were you, Nadine! So were you! Speaking of which – once again – Happy Birthday, Nadine!