Author(s): William ShakespeareDownload
This is the only fully annotated and modernized edition to bring together Shakespeare’s sonnets as well as all his poems (including those attributed to him after his death) in one volume. A full introduction discusses his development as a poet, and how the poems relate to the plays, and detailed notes explain the language and allusions. While accessibly written, the edition takes account of the most recent scholarship and criticism.About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World’s Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford’s commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
Some Reviews: 196 in Goodreads.com
When people are sufficiently stupid and/or uninformed, or when they’re swept passionately along on the tide of anti-white, anti-male, anti-hetero, anti-euro sentiment that’s become so chic in academia, they like to say “Well clearly Shakespeare was noble/gay/bi/a woman.” Afterwards they typically trundle out the specious evidence that the majority of the sonnets were all written, quite clearly, to a man. Apparently they didn’t see fit to read the entirety of the sonnets, or even perhaps any of them.
Most of the sonnets written to the fair youth are not particularly sensual or erotic in their treatment of admiration for their dedicated subject. Instead they become spring boards for musings about the nature of the art that Shakespeare is creating in his praise of this youth. The all too common practice of writing poems in praise of a patron seems far more plausible than the far-flung suggestions that his writing a poem encouraging another man to have sex with a woman is a sign of his latent homosexuality. Later on there are much more sensual sonnets, which deal explicitly with a woman, the aptly named Dark Lady.
I find it interesting that so many of these poems accomplish something very substantial, despite flouting all the rules we know about poetry writing now. Some of them have absolutely no concrete imagery, and instead wrestle with intangible ideas, and yet, the beauty of their language, rather than their imagery or concrete sensual experience, carries us through. Amazing poet.
Reading the sonnets was an entirely different experience than I had anticipated. I often had to re-read a poem three or four times before the meaning finally revealed itself. That wasn’t the unexpected part, however. I was surprised by the similarity of the sonnets. For example, at least ten of the first sonnets deal solely with trying to convince a beautiful young man that he should have children in order to ensure that his beauty never dies. Sometimes, it was like, “Okay, Will, I GET IT, the guy is beautiful. Next.” But his skill with words was a constant delight. I’ve always been a big Shakespeare fan.
Reading the poems was a different experience yet again. I really enjoyed the long form, like a hybrid of the sonnets and Shakespeare’s plays. I preferred the rhyme scheme of Venus and Adonis; it just flowed so beautifully. But the subject matter of both poems was a bit uncomfortable for me, since they both deal with seduction of unwilling participants, though obviously one more explicitly than the other (though it is entitled simply Lucrece in this book, the poem is actually called The Rape of Lucrece).
A good, complete collection of Shakespeare’s poetry. The longer poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece, were good reads, which I attributed the editors’ introductions in providing background and historical information, and I enjoyed “Let the Bird of Loudest Lay” (“The Phoenix and the Turtle”), but I wish more could have been written on it. Originally an epilogue, “To the Queen” was a short, easy read. However, I didn’t care for The Passionate Pilgrim or “A Lover’s Complaint,” the former I couldn’t get into, and the latter going on for too long. The Sonnets might be better appreciated when read separately, and I would prefer re-reading them separately.
I haven’t worked my way entirely through all the poems, but I was moved to start by remembering the very powerful and enigmatic effect the poem ‘Let the Bird of Loudest Lay’ exerted on me when I was beginning to explore literature. It was most interesting and rewarding to revisit the poem, assisted by the notes, and to read some of the others for the first time, such as ‘The Rape of Lucrece’ and the wonderfully overwrought ‘Venus and Adonis’. I’m sharpening my poetry pickaxe and climbing the sonnet mountain soon.
As with most Americans, I was first introduced to Shakespeare while in high school, where I read several of his plays and a few of his sonnets. Then, in college, I became very interested in his poetry, and so I read all of his sonnets and love poems. Reading his sonnets inspired me to write poetry, and over my college career, I wrote 20 sonnets to my girlfriend. I mention this not because I believe that the sonnets I wrote are comparable, but only to demonstrate that Shakespeare’s sonnets so moved me that I was inspired to try writing sonnets.
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