William Shakespeare was born in 26th April 1564 and died in 23rd April 1616. He was an English playwright, poet and actor and was widely considered as the greatest English language writer and a global pre-eminent dramatist. He is most often referred to as the “Bard of Avon” and the national poet of England.
His existing works include collaborations of about 2 long poem narratives, 154 sonnets, 38 plays and some other verses whose authorship remain uncertain. Shakespeare’s plays have also been translated to all major languages and are performed more frequently than other playwrights. When it comes to romance, Shakespeare’s sonnets are known to be the most romantic to have ever been written. Let's enjoy some famous Shakespeare sonnets together.
Famous Shakespeare Sonnets
Sonnet 18: Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?
Sonnet 18 is likely the most famous Shakespeare sonnets of all. In this sonnet, Shakespeare was addressing a young man he was quite close to. It is hard to tell whether Shakespeare was arrogant because no one knew what he was truly like. It is also not clear as to whether Shakespeare thought of himself as being the “great” writer that he is considered to have been to date. However, after the description of the young man’s immense beauty, Shakespeare suggested that his work was eternal. He stated that so long as there would always be people to read the sonnet, the young man’s beauty remained eternal.
Sonnet 29: When in Disgrace with Fortune and Men’s Eyes
Sonnet 29 is a Coleridge favorite. This sonnet explores the idea that love makes people feel good about themselves and can cure any ill. It goes to demonstrate all the feelings love inspires in people—both bad and good feelings. The poet also wrote that his reputation was in jeopardy and his financial status was failing and that he felt sorry for himself.
Sonnet 30: When to the Sessions of Sweet Silent Thought
This is a take on love and aging. The narrator of the sonnet describes all the things people agonize over as they grow old. All the pain and the regrets relive the mistakes he has made. It is filled with agony but all the pain and regrets evaporate with the thought of his beloved.
Sonnet 33: Full Many a Glorious Morning I Have Seen
This poem is about loss of a loved one. Shakespeare approaches the poem by expressing the difference in feelings when the sun shines brightly in the morning and when it is obscured by clouds, thus making the universe a forlorn place. When the narrator was loved by his beloved, it was like a glorious morning. When he lost the beloved, it felt like a gloomy and overcast morning. He then concluded by saying that he did not condemn his beloved because, even in the best of humanity, human frailty was still a part of nature as obscuring clouds were.
Sonnet 73: That Time of Year Thou Mayst in Me Behold
This sonnet is said to be one of Shakespeare’s most beautiful sonnets. The speaker approached death and contemplated how much it differed from his youth. From his experience, he learned that one must love life as much as one can as it would all end soon.
Sonnet 116: Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds Admit Impediments
This sonnet is among the most loved in the sheet because you can read it as a celebratory nod to marriage and love. It even continues to feature in modern wedding ceremonies around the globe and is considered as the most famous Shakespeare sonnets. The poem expresses love as never faltering, fading or ending. The poem’s final couplet shows the poet also had the perception that love was true. He went ahead to profess that if he was mistaken and love was not true, all his writings had been for nothing and that no man, him included, had ever loved.
Sonnet 138: When My Love Swears That She Is Made of Truth
This is the most famous sonnets by the Bard. It makes use of frequent puns with the most obvious one being “lie” and “lie”. It shows understanding of nature, flattery and truth when it comes to romantic relationships. There are scholars who have also argued that this poem is biographical. They suggested that the Bard of Avon used this sonnet to discuss the frustrating relationship he had with the Dark Lady. This lady was the subject of many sonnets by Shakespeare. (Note, the Dark lady was not Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare’s wife). This poem highlights on effects of age and associated decline of beauty. It also shows the effect of age on a romantic or sexual relationship.