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Shakespeare's Sonnets

William Shakespeare has whole 154 sonnets accredited to him. These sonnets were published by Thomas Thorpe in the year 1609. Prior to this date, no other Shakespeare’s sonnet had ever been published. The only exceptions are sonnets number 138 and 144 which had initially been published once in the year 1599. All the sonnets of Shakespeare revolved around the themes of love, mortality, beauty and time. In the first seventeen poems, Shakespeare is seen trying to talk to a young man. He is attempting to reason with him and convince him to marry. He urges the young man to have a wife and bear children. He believed that this was surest the way to immortalize one's beauty and a sure way of passing it to the next generation. This section is called the Procreation Sonnet. All the other sonnets talk about love. The speaker expresses feelings for a young man who has given it all to life and is just lonely and awaiting death.


In the sonnet, there is a dedication note to Mr. W. H. the dedication is signed T.T. by the publisher Thomas Thorpe. The peculiar thing with this dedication is that it is not known to whom it was addressed. The identity of Mr. W. H. remains unknown up to date. However, there have been many speculations as to whom the dedication belonged. People can only use the words in the dedication to try and figure out who it was being addressed to. One thing that seems very sure is that the dedication was being addressed to a gentleman. This is because of the title Mr. in the name. The second speculation is that the dedication was to a begetter of the sonnets. It is however not clear what he meant with the word begetter. The other important thing in the dedication is that it was signed by T.T. This raises many questions as to whether Thorpe published the sonnets without authorization from Shakespeare.

Structure of the sonnets

Almost all the sonnets are created in the same format. The most conspicuous thing is the rhyme scheme. “abab cdcd efef gg” is the rhyme scheme used in all Shakespeare’s sonnets. The structure is of three quatrains and a couplet that is created in his favorite style that he uses in all his plays. The quatrains are of four lines each. The first line of the third quatrain always marks the beginning of the poem shift. This is where the change in feelings starts in his sonnets.