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Shakespeare's Poems

William Shakespeare wrote more than just plays; learn about the poetry that earned him the nickname "The Bard."

The word 'bard' means poet. Shakespeare is called 'The Bard' because he is widely recognised as one of the greatest poets the world has ever known. In fact, he has come rather to symbolise poetry and writing internationally. In 1769 the actor David Garrick wrote 'For the bard of all bards was a Warwickshire Bard'. This may well be the quote that started the nickname. 

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day

— Sonnet 18

One hundred and fifty four sonnets are included in the volume Shakespeare’s Sonnets published in 1609. "A Lover's Complaint" first appeared in that same volume, after the Sonnets. Shakespeare published two long poems, among his earliest successes: "Venus and Adonis" in 1593 and "The Rape of Lucrece" in 1594. "The Phoenix and Turtle" was commissioned to be included in a collection by Robert Chester called Love's Martyr (1601). The Oxford edition of the complete works (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988) also includes as Shakespeare's various poems including some songs ('Shall I die, Shall I fly') and epitaphs.

Poems by William Shakespeare

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