THE POEMS AND SONNETS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
Wordsworth Poetry Library Wordsworth Editions
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“The Poems and Sonnets of William Shakepeare” comprises all 154 sonnets, as well as Venus and Adonis, Lucrece, A Lover’s Complaint, The Passionate Pilgrim, The Phoenix and the Turtle and Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Music.
The Sonnets are individual masterpieces of construction, each word and phrase, each rhyme, the pace and rhythm, combine to deliver perfect examples of how to think about poetry, how to plan its writing, how to write it and how to hone it for performance. The main themes of life, love, beauty, desire, sadness and humour are universal, common to most poetic output, but in Shakespeare’s hands the language is crafted meticulously, each Sonnet a template for other poets to match or, if they take up the challenge, attempt to surpass. But to drone on about studying Shakespeare, important thought it is, dulls the real point of a book like this. His work is there to be enjoyed, to be absorbed quietly or read out loud. For example, reading a Sonnet a day, fourteen lines of nutrition for the brain, is all it takes to remind us of this genius of a writer.
The narrative poems “Venus and Adonis” and “Lucrece” are full-blown stories that need time and the reader’s patience to pay off, but they are well worth the effort and, rather like a good novel, repeat readings will reveal more and more in terms of imagery, emotion and entertainment.
A straw poll amongst friends and family suggested that schooldays turned a lot of people off the Bard, probably the result of a force-feeding approach of the education system. It would be too tragic for words if Shakespeare was damned and ignored because of bad teaching. The opportunity to rekindle an interest is here now in this book. “The Poems and Sonnets of William Shakespeare” is just under 200 pages, an ideal size to slip into work or leisure luggage, handy and available for reading anytime.
It costs the same as a burger and fries, but it is much, much better for your health and well-being….and for your waistline.