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The Sonnets and A Lover's Complaint

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  2,146 ratings  ·  67 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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Leonard Gaya
There is very little we know about William Shakespeare, the son of a glove-maker from Stratford-upon-Avon. Oddly enough, this ordinary middle-class gentleman wrote the most enthralling plays in the past and possibly the future history of literature. Perhaps, for this reason, Shakespeare’s Sonnets, one of his rare works of straightforward poetry, have long been considered a key to its author’s biography.

Was Shakespeare obsessed with a “Fair Youth”, did he ever feel for a “Dark Lady”? Or are the S
Mar 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have thoughts about the gayness of Shakespeare's sonnets, but they're not as clear as Sandra Newman's are in this wonderful essay. tl;dr there are a variety of conclusions you can draw from the sonnets, but it's silly not to start from the position that they're gay. ...more
Jun 12, 2011 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
Nov 14, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This only my review of A Lover's Complaint. If you're interested in my review for The Sonnets you can check it out here.

I don't know what to say. This didn't woe me at all. It wasn't memorable and the language and rhymes seemed super clumsy. I didn't plan on reading this in the first place, but my new copy of Shakespeare's Sonnets, had this narrative poem as an appendix, and so I thought I might as well...

The authorship of this poem has been the topic of the critical debate over the centuries.
May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What can I say? I just love Shakespeare. This cloth bound edition makes my heart flutter. I have a whole list of sonnets that I really enjoyed (for example: 17, 18, 20, 45, 61, 72, 109, 116, 130, . There were some that didn’t really speak to me and “The Lover’s Complaint” wasn’t really my thing either. Overall, this was a succes and I’m happy I finally got to Shakespeare’s sonnets after having studied some of them at uni. The introduction was interesting, but a bit long and sometimes a bit compl ...more
Jazzy Lemon
From having a friend whisper the words out in a public library or bookshop so I may copy them down, to carrying a small battered copy of my own, the sonnets have long been a poetic staple of my life.
Clover  Youngblood
Nov 16, 2011 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
J. Alfred
Jun 18, 2009 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
rebecca ☂
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These stunningly beautiful poems delineate love, time, beauty and lust in the darkest, rawest, most fluid nature. Its fair to say the Bard has officially won my heart.

Some favourites include sonnets 17, 18, 27, 49, 54, 55, 60, 93, 99, 130, 139, 147, 152.
Aug 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Inner note: Do NOT ever read again Shakespeare's sonnets in Spanish.
Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
After I graduated high school I dated a boy from out of state and we would see each other over weekends. Since we were a few hours apart, we spoke on the phone regularly and he would leave me voicemails (I’m well aware that I’m dating myself here and what’s extra shocking is we didn’t text message either! Gasp!). He wrote poetry and would regularly leave poems he wrote for me on my answering machine. Cute? Romantic? Yuck. We didn’t last long. I couldn’t handle the mushiness. To me, it feels so d ...more
Amy Layton
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! Honestly, I will never not be in love with Shakespeare. I'd read mostly his plays and less of his poetry, so I decided that it was high time to change that. And was I glad I did. His sonnets are some of the most stunningly beautiful pieces of poetry that I've ever read. I'm not kidding. I want to write some of my own poetry now. I want to study sonnets and read all of his other works of poetry. I want to get married solely to use Sonnet #91 as my wedding vows.

If you're new to Shakespeare,
Frankie Grace
the intro to this is rly good
Mar 05, 2013 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
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 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
Oct 31, 2014 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.
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.
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I remember reading these in Honors English class and loving every one of them.
Michael Du Pré
Apr 24, 2014 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.
E. G.
Mar 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Further Reading

--The Sonnets

--A Lover's Complaint

An Account of the Text
Variant and Further Sonnets
Index of Sonnet First Lines
I liked the bits that I actually understood.
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
How does one go about reviewing England’s National Poet; the greatest contributor to English literature of all time? Do I fawn, grovel and cower beneath the majesty of such a personage, or do I risk exposing myself to scorn by condemning the well-worn bard as less than great? I make no pretence to good taste, only esteeming that which moves, elevates, or lowers me to realms beyond, above, or beneath my own. The Sonnets, 154 well loved examples of Romantic poesy, have endured the centuries with t ...more
Diego Carvalho
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Ok, before starting the review I want to make a statement:

What needs my Shakespeare for his honoured bones,
The labor of an age in pilèd stones,
Or that his hallowed relics should be hid   
Under a star-ypointing pyramid? 
Dear son of Memory, great heir of fame, 
What need’st thou such weak witness of thy name?
Thou in our wonder and astonishment 
Hast built thyself a live-long monument. 
For whilst to th’ shame of slow-endeavouring art,   
Thy easy numbers flow, and that each heart   
Hath from the leave
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, poetry
So.....when it comes to the poetry, of course, the man was a genius and would deserve all the stars. But we all know that already. There’s nothing I can say about it that hasn’t been said 1000 times before and much more coherently than I could.

I will say this instead— this audiobook was a travesty. Narrated by a bunch of different voice actors (I can’t believe they were paid for this), it switched sonnet by sonnet from one to another. There were a couple that were okay at first, but then.... I
J. Allen Nelson
This Arden edition is a joy for those who prefer the scholarly editions of Shakespeare's works. For many years I only had a small cheap '60's paperback of his poetry on hand, with little guidance beyond an assertion that his devotion to the "fair youth" "need not be perverse." (i.e. homosexual) This book clearly shows how Shakespeare deliberately structured his sonnets into a comprehensive sequence of poems that was not unlike (but superior to) others' at the time.
One can get lost in the Langu
Kevin Varney
Sorry to give this a low score. It says more about my own ignorance I suspect. The problem was that apart from the two sonnets I'd studied a bit before: 116 (Let me not to the marriage of true minds...) and 29 (When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes), I had a lot of difficulty understanding them. Even when I understood most the vocabulary, I was not sure what he was driving at much of the time. I remember learning sonnet 116 (Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds) from school over 35 ye ...more
Nancy Welbourn
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This Goodreads account is in memory of my grandmother, Bunny.

She gave me (her granddaughter, Katelyn) this book when I got married along with a note that said: "Dec. 21
Dearest Katelyn,
This is a collection of sonnets by Shakespeare, one of which, #116, is particularly appropriate to you and Mark at this exciting time in your lives. It begins 'Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments' and I hope you'll enjoy reading it out loud to each other.
With the book come Gran'dad and my bes
Mikael Cerbing
I am not a poem reader. And I read this for a course. But I kind of liked it. This is a book that should be sampled, not read, in my view. But as thousands of People have a lot more and better things to say about this book I will leave it at that. I will say that the introduction was not very good. The amount of "may" and "perhaps" that was in it beacame irritating after a while. Its all well and good to be open about the contextual problems With the text. But if you build up a theory With ten " ...more
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Sonnets in my reading are not about love at all. They're about how to speak to autocracy, when that power figure looks to you with kindness or with criticism and anger. Think on how it would have been like to exist as a Courtier, or as a playwright in the historical period of when the Sonnets were written, and you will understand the difficulties of existing as an artist in that period.
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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…