William Shakespeare was born at Stratford-On-Avon on 25 April 1564. He died on 23 April 1616. He is an eminent poet and playwright of the Renaissance in England. His poems are Venus and Adonis (1593), The Rape of Lucrece (1594), The Phoenix and the Turtle (1601) and the Sonnets (1593-1603).
The sonnets of William Shakespeare were published in the Quarto edition of Shakespeare’s Works in 1609 by Thomas Thorpe. They are dedicated to Mr. W.H. It is he who is considered to be the begetter of Shakespearean sonnets. A controversy exists about the identity of Mr. W.H. Perhaps he is William Herbert, the eldest son of the second Earl of Prembroke. In 1601 he became the third Earl of Prembroke.

Shakespeare has composed 154 sonnets. These sonnets form two groups. The first group (1 to 126) is addressed to a smart young man and the second group (127 to 154) to a dark lady. The young man appears as a lovely boy. His social position is very high. He is urged to marry and beget children to perpetuate his great beauty. The dark lady is perhaps a married woman. She appears a bad angel who has stolen away the poet’s good angel, his young friend. The poet loves both.

The sonnet is a fourteen line fixed lyrical form. It came to be used in Italy in the thirteenth century. It was perfected by Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374). He is commonly known as Petrarch. His sonnets are addressed to a beautiful lady named Laura. The rhyme scheme of his sonnets is abba,aba,cde or cdc,dedor cde,dce. The English sonnets directly stems from Petrarch through Howard, Sir Thomas Wyatt and the earl of Surrey.

The Shakespearean sonnet consists of three quatrains. Each quatrain consists of four lines. At the end there is a couplet. The rhyme scheme of Shakespearean sonnet is abab, cdcd, efef,and gg.


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