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The Sonnets and A Lover's Complaint

4.25  ·  Rating Details ·  1,710 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
William Shakespeare is a global icon for his plays such as Hamlet, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet, but his poetic meditations on love are among the most powerful and evocative poems ever written. This Penguin Classics edition of Sonnets and A Lover's Complaint is edited by John Kerrigan.

'Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?'

The language of Shakespeare's sonnets has become
Paperback, 458 pages
Published April 29th 1999 by Penguin Classics (first published 1609)
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Jun 12, 2011 Leslie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Sonnet #29 is a perfect example of why these poems are really not for schoolchildren: "When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes/I all alone beweep my outcast state ..." Of course a teenager beweeps plenty and likely feels outcast often enough, but there is something very adult about the weary despair in the first two quatrains of this sonnet.

I thought they were quite pretty, back when I was a lit major in college. Now I find them entirely devastating, and contemplate which ones I'd read at w
Mar 05, 2013 Rikke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, owned-books
There's nothing new to say about Shakespeare; everything has been said, every word has been analyzed and every possible praise of his works has been written. Shakespeare is certainly established as one of the greatest writers ever known, and one cannot argue with that. His way with words is something entirely unique and utterly genius. And that is was he was - a genius.
I loved reading the sonnets as they can only be described as being completely magical. Shakespeare's ability to captivate even t
J. Alfred
Jun 18, 2009 J. Alfred rated it really liked it
This book is a perfect example of how I've been using the ratings system. Everyone everywhere is agreed that the Sonnets are some of the best literature ever created. Thus its rating should be off the charts: it should take a small constellation of stars. And yet, the little stars themselves talk about not how intrinsically good the material is, but how much the reader enjoyed it, thus making the rating system subjective rather than objective. This is acceptable, in that it is the job of English ...more
Sonnet 104

To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I eyed,
Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold
Have from the forests shook three summers' pride,
Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turn'd
In process of the seasons have I seen,
Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burn'd,
Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green.
Ah, yet doth beauty, like a dial-hand,
Steal from his figure and no pace perceived;
So your sweet hue, which methinks still dot
Sep 06, 2012 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
As I have previously said about love poetry we men need all the help we can when it comes to trying to woo a lady. We are just not good at chat up lines unless it is fully loaded with cheese. Well Penguin Classics to the rescue with this handy book of sonnets. The book contains 154 sonnets and A Lover's Complaint (I am sure we could all come up with a few of those) and an introduction that is a quarter of the book.

This is an enjoyable book and a quick dip in to Shakespeare without having to read
Clover  Youngblood
Nov 16, 2011 Clover Youngblood rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I love Shakespeare, especially his sonnets. But between the long-winded and confusing introduction and the printing of the book in general, I did not enjoy this reread as much as I had expected. I prefer Barnes and Noble's clear and to the point printing of the Sonnets. As for the lover's complaint, I guess I'll just find a seperate printing.

In regards to the sonnets themselves, I couldn't love them more. As I am not scholar, I dont entirely understand the exact meaning of each and every sonnet
Fantastic. This edition has an amazing set of footnotes. These sonnets aren't about lovey-dovey experiences, but as love in the rawest, darkest, fluid nature.
Michael Du Pré
Apr 24, 2014 Michael Du Pré rated it it was amazing
It's Shakespeare: what else is there to say? One judges one's self by Shakespeare, not Shakespeare by one's self.
Aug 20, 2013 Selene rated it liked it
Inner note: Do NOT ever read again Shakespeare's sonnets in Spanish.
Oct 14, 2013 mysticbookworm rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I remember reading these in Honors English class and loving every one of them.
Christiane Kremer
Until now I had been only reading Shakespeare's plays and, to be honest, I like the plays better- MUCH better! The poems are amazing and I really enjoyed reading them, especially A Lover's Complaint, but apparently poetry isn't really my thing.

I have to say, though, that the introduction to the poems is incredible; very complete, very thorough. Plus it's truly interesting and helpful.
Dec 01, 2012 Dolmar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poesía
Imprescindible para amantes de la poesía.


O vivo para hacerte el epitafio
o vives tú y se pudrirá mi carne.
Si mueres tu recuerdo estará a salvo;
de mí habrán olvidado cada parte.
Tendrá tu nombre vida para siempre
y a mí no habrá en el mundo quien me llore;
la tierra me reserva un hoyo inerte:
tú yaces en los ojos de los hombres.
Mi verso fiel será tu monumento,
lectura de los ojos que aún no existen;
y cuando estén, los que hoy suspiran, muertos
no faltarán las lenguas que te imiten.
Tú vivirás –
Greg Kerestan
Oct 14, 2016 Greg Kerestan rated it really liked it
The trouble with the Sonnet cycle is that it's almost too much of a good thing- none are bad, and individual sonnets sparkle, but taken together, all 150 or so, it's a little cloying. Despite this, the central themes and characters that emerge in the entire cycle, but are invisible in individual excerpts, prove a fascinating diversion. Which character is which? Are they real people or fictions? What do the poems say about love and sexuality in Elizabethan England? Ultimately not much, but Shakes ...more
Aug 08, 2016 Joaomaia rated it it was ok
A Lover's Complaint. As the title suggests, this Shakespeare work is a complaint poem. This type of poem was popular in medieval and Renaissance times. Authors of complaint poems narrated stories of unrequited love, personal difficulties, injustice, poverty, or another social problem. Sometimes they spiced their poems with satire. A complaint poem often appeared at the end of a collection of other poems.
Jan 05, 2015 Simone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This has been a very pleasurable read, quiet, detained and detailed. There is so much to learn from these poems, I feel I need to read them over and over again. Most of them are not agreeable to a modern mind, but they delve deep into our innermost feelings and desires, and they feel uncomfortable because of that. This happens to be the most personal writing by Shakespeare, and of course he couldn't be nice, easy and commonplace.
Laala Alghata
Apr 05, 2010 Laala Alghata rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been reading this slowly for a few months. I just read three or four sonnets at a time and put it down till I felt I was in the mood again.

I’m happy to be able to say I read all the sonnets. I’m glad I didn’t read them when I was younger. Some are outstanding, some didn’t click for me.

You should read them.
Oct 31, 2014 Yuckamashe rated it liked it
Shelves: school-req
I had the hottest, young teacher from Statford Upon Avon. Needless to say he was obsessed with Shakespeare.We focused on the sonnets. I really liked them and him!A lot of them are total slams to chicks he has been with.
PJ Wenzel
Aug 09, 2016 PJ Wenzel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-read
Maybe its just me, but after reading several of the Sonnets I found that these are much harder to understand and dissect than other works of the Bard's. So I will be putting this one down for now and coming back to it later I guess.
Sep 21, 2016 Courtney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, 2016
I've had this book on my bedside table for a while and is one of my favorite go-to books to read a few sonnets just before bed. It is a beautifully bound book and I hope to keep it on my bedside table for years to come.
Reading Shakespeare's sonnets back to back is not (in my opinion /experience) the best way to consume them.
Oct 01, 2013 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Bought at the Globe Theatre, London.
These poems range from brilliantly stunning to heartwrenching to hilarious to just plain silly.
Erin Nannen
Jun 28, 2011 Erin Nannen rated it it was amazing
my favorite sonnets are 18, 28, 30, 46, 80, and 141. every single work is beautiful and truly meaningful. william shakespeare is a genius.
Mar 19, 2015 Edward rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, poetry, 5-star, uk-ireland
Further Reading

--The Sonnets

--A Lover's Complaint

An Account of the Text
Variant and Further Sonnets
Index of Sonnet First Lines
Jun 17, 2013 Andrew rated it liked it
It would be two stars but the Dark Lady sonnets proved an interesting comparison and contrast to the Hosea/Gomer account.
Rugile rated it liked it
Jan 29, 2014
Jeremy M.
Jeremy M. rated it really liked it
Sep 28, 2013
Christopher R Jones
Christopher R Jones rated it it was amazing
Oct 17, 2015
Leslie Dow
Leslie Dow rated it really liked it
Mar 19, 2013
David Loughin
David Loughin rated it liked it
May 21, 2014
Joy rated it liked it
Apr 06, 2011
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  • Tales from 1,001 Nights
  • Penguin's Poems for Life
  • Jabberwocky and Other Poems
  • The Major Works: Including Astrophil and Stella
  • Love and Freindship and Other Early Works
  • The Complete Poems and Plays
  • The Shorter Poems
  • The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets
  • Selected Letters
  • John Donne - The Major Works: Including Songs and Sonnets and Sermons
  • Selected Poems
  • Essential Dickinson
  • Taliessin through Logres, The Region of the Summer Stars, and Arthurian Torso
  • Canzoniere
  • The Tower
  • The Collected Poems: A Dual-Language Edition with Parallel Text (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
  • Lord Byron: The Major Works
  • Love Poems
William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been tr ...more
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“Those lips that Love's own hand did make
Breathed forth the sound that said, 'I hate'
To me that languished for her sake,
But, when she saw my woeful state,
Straight in her heart did mercy come,
Chiding that tongue that ever sweet
Was used in giving gentle doom,
And taught it thus anew to greet:
'I hate,' she altered with an end
That followed it as gentle day
Doth follow night, who like a fiend
From Heaven to Hell is flown away.
'I hate' from hate away she threw
And saved my life, saying 'not you'.”
“Return of love, more blest may be the view;
As call it winter, which being full of care,
Makes summer’s welcome thrice more wish’d, more rare.

More quotes…