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The sonnets by William Shakespeare

The sonnets (edition 1595)

by William Shakespeare

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5,15740867 (4.26)1 / 67
Title:The sonnets
Authors:William Shakespeare
Info:New York: Gramercy Books: Distributed by Outlet Book Co., 1991.
Collections:Your library, Favorites (inactive)
Tags:poetry, 16th century, british, read, favorite, fiction

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The Sonnets by William Shakespeare

  1. 20
    An Essay on Shakespeare's Sonnets by Stephen Booth (davidcla)
    davidcla: If you really, really get into the Sonnets, try this edition, which has the most complete and oddest notes. This edition also contains a facsimile of the 1609 text.
  2. 00
    Such Is My Love: A Study of Shakespeare's Sonnets by Joseph Pequigney (Jakujin)
  3. 110
    Twilight / New Moon / Eclipse / Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (LCoale1)
    LCoale1: The emotions of Edward, Bella, and Jacob seem to come straight from these sonnets and, surprisingly, really helped me to understand Shakespeare's emotions and messages. Although the writing styles are about as different as can be, the themes are nearly identical - I swear I found paraphrases of lines of Shakespeare used as thoughts and dialogue in Breaking Dawn, specifically.… (more)

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English (36)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (40)
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
I loved rereading the sonnets. I read a different edition (one that includes other poems I haven't read), but one of my students brought this edition in to office hours. In class, I gave a presentation on sonnet 130, blazon poetry, and Shakespeare's diverse, outlandish (a la Gascoigne) garden (a comparison of 130 with 99--the dark lady with the young man). I also wrote this prompt:

“O, know, sweet love, I always write of you”

How is the language of the sonnets reflected in the love poetry of a tragic or comedic play? For instance, how does the celestial imagery (sun, stars, etc) used in Hamlet’s love letter to Ophelia compare with the celestial imagery used in the sonnets? How does the repetition of “Will” in the sonnets compare with Orlando’s repetition of “Rosalind” in his verse? How are poetic devices working within and/or challenging the Petrarchan tradition? Does imagery change and/or stay the same when used in spoken dialogue instead of written verse (e.g. how is the moon represented in the sonnets and in Midsummer Night’s Dream)?
  Marjorie_Jensen | Nov 12, 2015 |
Music to mine ears. ( )
  JorgeCarvajal | Feb 13, 2015 |
There are poems which are life rafts and serve much the same purpose, and this collection is full of them. They're a big part of who I am and where I am today. ( )
  Mothwing | Jan 4, 2015 |
Beautiful, intelligent, lyrical, romantic, clever, bitter, amusing, sorrowful -- the gamut in 14 lines at a time. Pure genius. ( )
  AliceAnna | Oct 23, 2014 |
I think the sonnets need to be understood as a sequence.

Even if they start unpromisingly and end with a whimper. Perhaps this is part of his subversion of the sonnet tradition?

Katherine Duncan-Jones in her edition for Arden, and Joseph Pequigney in Such is My Love (my two sources of expertise on the sonnets – chosen because they are unafraid of the homosexuality), both believe we have Shakespeare’s order in the published quarto – and, to go with that, they believe he meant to publish them. They disagree on story points: Pequigney sees no evidence that the youth is a nobleman or that the first set of sonnets are commissioned work. But both support autobiography in them, too. I want to see autobiography, I confess, because I’ve experienced moments of encounter with the voice of the sonnets and I’d like to think that voice is Shakespeare; besides, I can’t see why he’d write – and publish – such unconventional sonnets, without autobiographical reason. It isn’t that I assume his love of the friend has to be a life event; I understand the real importance of a fantasy love, if he’s that. I have no opinion on whether he’s Pembroke (KDJ) or nobody famous (Pequigney), it’s only the ‘I’ identification I care about and in whose reality I have come to believe.

There are only a few sonnets I can say I like as individual poems. There are a few I can say I don’t like (may scream if subjected to ‘Shall I compare thee…?’ one more time). But I’ve become fascinated by the story of the sequence. I’m also flummoxed by how bold they are. #105, ‘Let not my love be called idolatry’, KDJ calls “flamboyantly blasphemous” in its use of the Trinity to idolise his friend. Then there’s #116, ‘Let me not to the marriage of true minds/Admit impediments…’ This time it’s the marriage service, cited to defend their union. I still don’t understand how you publish such poems, but the two critics I’ve mentioned give you the history of our discomfort with them through the centuries since (can be funny). They are easily taken out of context… I used to hate ‘Let me not to the marriage’ before I met it in context, because it seemed a celebration of conventionality. It isn’t.

The sonnets I most prize, by coincidence those where I most hear the voice, are neither among the most pretty or the most cynical but in between, with a believability, likely to be about the friend’s fallibility or else his own, and yet to affirm a love, more or less a perfect love between imperfect people. Interpretation is up to you. As with the plays. Because they’re sonnets, though, you get his feelings about his ill-repute but never learn what he’s ill-reputed for. I guess this is the charm of sonnets. Why do they have an estrangement? What has the friend done? I find myself left forever curious, which means… I’ll read them again, and perhaps, that next time I do, I’ll see a slightly different story. ( )
1 vote Jakujin | Oct 2, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
I väntan på att experterna en dag avslöjar sanningen om ”the Dark Lady” och ”the Fair Youth” får vi vanliga läsare fortsätta att njuta av sonetternas tidlösa musik. Det blir lättare nu med Eva Ströms hjälp.
added by Jannes | editDagens nyheter, Leif Zern (Feb 24, 2011)
Det fenomenala med Shakespeare är hans förmåga att formulera sådana slitna tankar nytt och fräscht. Och Eva Ström hittar genomgående svenska motsvarigheter till hans kombinationer av komplicerad metaforik och raka utsagor.
Any way I can look at it, his achievement seems to me extraordinarily impressive.
added by davidcla | editNew York Review of Books, Frank Kermode (pay site) (Nov 5, 1970)

» Add other authors (159 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shakespeare, Williamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alden, Raymond MacdonaldEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Appelbaum, StanleyEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Auden, W. H.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Auld, WilliamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ballou, Robert OlesonIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Booth, StephenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brooke, C. F. TuckerEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Duncan-Jones, KatherineEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gollancz, IsraelEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harbage, AlfredEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mosher, Thomas B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mowat, Barbara A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reed, Edward BlissEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rolfe, William J.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simonsuuri, KirstiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ström, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Verstegen, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, John DoverEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wright, Louis B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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T. T.
First words
From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty's rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decrease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed'st thy light's flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This work contains all the 154 sonnets and no other fiction from Shakespeare. Please do not combine with selections of poems or work that contain plays or other poems.

Please do not combine Sonnets (No Fear Shakespeare) with Sonnets.
Publisher's editors
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Original language
Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0486266869, Paperback)

Over 150 exquisite poems deal with love, friendship, the tyranny of time, beauty's evanescence, death, and other themes in language unsurpassed in passion, precision, originality, and beauty. This inexpensive Dover edition enables any lover of poetry or fine literature to have this remarkable verse in his or her library. Includes glossary of archaic terms. Includes a selection from the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:20 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

T.S. Eliot once wrote that, "Shakespeare gives the greatest width of human passion," and it is this passion that has traditionally made The Sonnets appealing to literati and laymen alike. Surrounded by mystery, these poems of devotion and jealousy, of a young courtier and a Dark Lady, have been the subject of endless speculation. They are highly mystical and at the same time highly honest as W. H. Auden wrote, "...what is astonishing about the sonnets, especially when one remembers the age in which they were written, is the impression they make of naked autobiographical confession." Because they are witty, passionate, personal, and often ever bawdy, The Sonnets stand as one of the greatest poetic tributes ever written to a beloved. Elegantly presented in deluxe edition, these 154 beautiful poems are the perfect gift for any man or woman who has ever been in love.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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12 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140714537, 014600373X, 0141045388

Yale University Press

2 editions of this book were published by Yale University Press.

Editions: 0300085060, 0300024959


An edition of this book was published by HighBridge.

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