It's funny how meanings open up when you paraphrase things for children. This is another post about my kids and Sonnet 18, so if you're bored with that, you can move on :).
Since they have now memorized the first part and are driving us nuts with it, I'm trying to teach them the rest. At one point I got to the line that, in my own interpretation, "Is the most beautiful line in the most beautiful poem in the world: Nor shall Death brag thy wander'st in his shade, when in eternal lines to time thou growest. So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, so long lives this, and this gives life to thee." To me it means, quite simply, that as long as people continue to read this tribute to your perfect beauty, you shall never grow old, and you shall never die. Is there really anything greater to wish for your true love, than immortality? Shakespeare takes it one step further by not just wishing immortality, but claiming that he has the power to grant it.
And then I thought, "And you know what? Shakespeare was right. It's 400 years later, and we're still talking about it. Dang, that's some good stuff."
That's when the irony set in.
Somebody please tell me, who exactly he wrote Sonnet 18 for?