When a volume of poetry entitled "Shake-speares Sonnets. Never before Imprinted" appeared in 1609, Shakespeare was forty-five and most of his greatest plays had seen several performances. Some of the sonnets, speaking of the begetting of children, mortality and memory, art, desire and jealousy, are addressed to a beloved youth; others are addressed to a treacherous mistress, a "dark lady". Appended to the sonnets is A Lover's Complaint, a beautiful poem in rhyme-royal in which a young woman is overheard lamenting her betrayal by a heartless seducer. While Shakespeare biogrophers continue their investigations, readers may find the "secret" of the sonnets in the poetry itself. In this spirit John Kerrigan provides an illuminating introduction to the volume as a whole, together with commentaries on each poem, a textual history and suggestions for further reading.
Shakespeare's poetic meditations on love
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?' The language of Shakespeare's sonnets has become inseparable from the language of love in English; but the force and tenderness of these poems is undiminished by age. When this volume of Shakespeare's poems first appeared in 1609, he had already written most of the great plays that made him famous. The 154 sonnets - all but two of which are addressed to a beautiful young man, 'Mr W.H.', or a treacherous 'dark lady' - contain some of the most exquisite and haunting poetry ever written, and deal with eternal subjects such as love and infidelity, memory and mortality, and the destruction wreaked by Time. Also included is A Lover's Complaint, originally published with the sonnets, in which a young woman is overheard lamenting her betrayal by a heartless seducer. In his illuminating introduction, John Kerrigan examines how the sonnets are intertwined, the ways in which these works have been interpreted and the themes running through them. This edition also includes further reading, commentaries on each poem, a textual history, variant and further sonnets and an index of first lines.
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William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in April, 1564, and his birth is traditionally celebrated on April 23. The facts of his life, known from surviving documents, are sparse. He died on April 23, 1616, and was buried in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford.