The Sonnets of Shakespeare

Adored, criticized, oft quoted, oft misquoted - Shakespeare's sonnets have lived on even unto this age. Are they the window to the life of the most revered figure in Literature ? Are they his works after all? Even if they were, was Shakespeare the best Sonneteer that ever lived? However divided opinions may be, the sonnets unquestionably have rightly taken their place amongst the great works of literature.

William Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets. Each sonnet is made up of 14 lines - 3 quatrains of 4 lines each & a couplet. There are deviations from the sonnet form though - Sonnet 99 has 15 lines & Sonnet 126 is made of 7 couplets (the 7th added by the publisher). Sonnets 1 - 126 , sprinkled with the language of love, are addressed to a young man - the 'Fair Youth' & Sonnets 127 - 152 have been addressed to - 'The Dark Lady' - both identities still remain a mystery.

Each box below is a sonnet & each bar is a line of poetry. Hover over a bar to view a line. Click on a box to read the entire sonnet. Click on any of the buttons to filter by theme. Search for a word or phrase to highlight its occurence anywhere in the body of the sonnets. Love, obviously is a major theme. Shakespeare constantly refers to beauty, time, summer, the heart , the eyes amongst others while his use of sweet stands out - 'sweet ornament', 'sweet odour', 'sweet respect', 'sweet thoughts', 'sweet virtue', 'sweet husband' and so on.

To view a Network Layout of each sonnet click here. This view shows how Shakespeare wove words together to build a sonnet and also gives you an indication of how textually similar are the sonnets to each other. Go ahead and have your take of the sonnets - the bard is used to turning in his grave.

The remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he is really very good - in spite of all the people who say he is very good.

Robert Graves

He was not of an age, but for all time!

Ben Jonson

Visuals: GRAMENER.COM

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