Shakespeare's sonnets have an intensity of both feeling and meaning unmatched in English sonnet form. They divide into two parts; the first 126 sonnets are addressed to a fair youth for whom the poet has an obsessive love and the second chronicles his love for the notorious 'Dark Lady'. In addition to the sonnets, this volume includes Shakespeare's two lengthy narrative poems on classical themes, 'The Rape of Lucrece' which looks forward to the dark imagery of Macbeth, and 'Venus and Adonis' which mixes ribaldry and tragedy in unique Shakespearean manner. 'The Phoenix and the Turtle' is a beautiful metaphysical and allegorical short elegy, and takes its place with Shakespeare's better-known poetry.
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Arguably the greatest English-language playwright, William Shakespeare was a seventeenth-century writer and dramatist, and is known as the Bard of Avon. Under the patronage of Queen Elizabeth I, he penned more than 30 plays, 154 sonnets, and numerous narrative poems and short verses. Equally accomplished in histories, tragedies, comedy, and romance, Shakespeare s most famous works include Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, The Taming of the Shrew, and As You Like It.
Like many of his contemporaries, including Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare began his career on the stage, eventually rising to become part-owner of Lord Chamberlain s Men, a popular dramatic company of his day, and of the storied Globe Theatre in London.
Extremely popular in his lifetime, Shakespeare s works continue to resonate more than three hundred years after his death. His plays are performed more often than any other playwright s, have been translated into every major language in the world, and are studied widely by scholars and students.
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