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Most Famous Poems by William Shakespeare

by Team PoetrySoup

William Shakespeare remains one of the greatest to grace the earth, with people taking time every year to celebrate his life and death. As a dramatist, he has written so many plays that are still being acted in the world today. It is completely strange how he has much influence in the literary sector and beyond, but so little of his personal life is known to the people who adore and respect his art.

Another aspect of his career that not many people knew about was his poems. This was partly because they were first meant for private readership and were only published for public viewing many years after his death.

As one of the most famous writers to live, most of his work has been translated in almost every language, with more movies performed on his works than any other playwright. Even up until now, you will find several well-written essays on Macbeth, Othello, Twelfth Night, and all his other books.

Since his plays are well known, let’s discuss some of the popular pieces written by this amazing being.

Sonnet 116

Of the 154 sonnets released in 1609, this one remains one of the most talked-about narratives. This is because it addresses the biggest concept of all time, which is love. He uses several metaphors to ascertain the selflessness and ease that comes with truly loving another, with passion and without condition.

Here is an excerpt from this piece:

“Love’s not time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come:

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom…”

William Shakespeare, ”Let me not to the marriage of true minds•


In this piece, Shakespeare attempts to define love. At first, his definition appears to be physical, but upon closer inspection, it takes an unexpected sharp turn and becomes clearer on what it is all about. The writer explains how tangible affection is and how it could change with time.

Sonnet 130

This is another one of his works that have inspired a lot of arguments and critics over the years. This Shakespearean sonnet is a common one because of how he described his mistress in the piece.

From careful deliberation of the entire piece, one would come to understand that the writer did not falsely praise this beauty. He fervently chased her, but maintained his objective view on her physical appearance, cementing the fact that what he felt was real, and not infatuation based on a warped view of her.

Here is an excerpt from this sonnet:

“Coral is far more red than her lips red:

If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;

If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.

I have seen roses damasked, red and white,

But no such roses see I in her cheeks;

And in some perfumes is there more delight

Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks…”

William Shakespeare, My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun

This piece is known as the Dark Lady, and it appears in sonnets 127-154, ultimately betraying the poet towards the end of this sharp thematic masterpiece. So many speculations have had people describe this heroine as a married woman who seduced and led him on. Still, only intellectuals will understand it was the reciprocation of the obsessive lust he had for her.

From Venus to Adonis

This is another sonnet written by a famous practitioner. The poem tells of how the beautiful goddess of love fell in love with a bashful youth who was only interested in hunting. For those who are a big fan of movies based on Shakespeare’s plays, you already know he sometimes writes about love in an obsessive manner.

The goddess was truly obsessed and consumed by Adonis, and she finally lost her mind and cursed the humans when Adonis died in one of these hunting expenditures.

Here is an excerpt from this sonnet:

“Give me my hand,’ saith he, ‘why dost thou feel it?’

     ‘Give me my heart,’ saith she, ‘and thou shalt have it;

     O! give it me, lest thy hard heart do steel it,

     And being steel’d, soft sighs can never grave it:   

       Then love’s deep groans I never shall regard,

       Because Adonis’ heart hath made mine hard.’

   — William Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis

This piece flits between three emotional rangers: erotic, tragic, comedic. Her love was unrequited, and sometimes readers would feel the pain and suffering in her words. At other times, her seduction might gain headway, and the joy would almost burst out of the pages. After his death, she cursed human love to be mixed with distrust and sadness, and turned Adonis’ blood into beautiful flowers before going back to her abode.

Sonnet 65

This is a powerful piece seeking to explain humanity, self absorption and general development.

In it, the writer laments on how time mercilessly continues, crumbling everything in its path without thought. Beauty will fade away, so will life and everything contained in it.

This sonnet, however, explains that poetry is an art that can never be washed away, and so is love.

Here is an excerpt:

“…Against the wrackful siege of battering days,

When rocks impregnable are not so stout,

Nor gates of steel so strong but time decays?

O fearful meditation! where, alack,

Shall Time’s best jewel from time’s chest lie hid?

Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?…”

   — William Shakespeare, Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea.

The power of love and creative humanity can be agreed upon. The particular piece stays evergreen and has been kept ready by literary critics and lovers. Love heals wounds with time; we all need it to keep healthy as a society.


Even years after his death, he remains a great person who still inspires millions. Despite the many criticisms and acknowledgments, his works face today, they would remain a sacred piece in literature. His above works are not romantic declarations, as a deeper delve into the words would tell you. With twits and anecdotes, he describes true love as it truly is — Agape.