Complete Poetry

  • by William Shakespeare
  • Narrated by Charlton Griffin
  • 6 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The sonnets are a collection numbering 154 poems dealing with themes such as the passage of time, love, beauty, and mortality. They were probably written over a long period of Shakespeare's life up until 1609, when they were first printed. The first 17 poems, traditionally referred to as the "procreation sonnets", are addressed to a young man urging him to marry and have children in order to immortalize his beauty by passing it on to his descendants.
The other sonnets: express the speaker's love for a young man; brood upon loneliness, death, and the transience of life; appear to criticize the young man for preferring a rival poet; express ambiguity toward the speaker's mistress; and make a pun on the poet's name. The final two sonnets are allegorical recreations of Greek epigrams referring to the "little love-god" Cupid. Shakespeare's sonnets were strongly influenced by the Latin poet Horace.
In 1593 and 1594 the London theaters were closed because of plague. Shakespeare turned to poetry and published two narrative poems on erotic themes, "Venus and Adonis", and "The Rape of Lucrece". In "Venus and Adonis", a youthful Adonis rejects the sexual advances of Venus; but in "The Rape of Lucrece", the virtuous wife Lucrece is raped by the lascivious Tarquin. Inspired by Ovid's The Metamorphoses, the poems show the guilt and moral confusion resulting from uncontrolled lust. A third narrative poem, "A Lover's Complaint", presents a young woman who laments her seduction by a persuasive suitor. "The Phoenix and the Turtle" mourns the deaths of the legendary phoenix and his lover, the faithful turtle dove.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Wonderful (and easy!) intro to the Bard's poetry

What did you like best about this story?

It's a privilege to get an overview of this important poetry with so very little effort – and of course Shakespeare's poetry (alongside his plays) is a must for any culture vulture


What about Charlton Griffin’s performance did you like?

Griffin recites with complete fluency – often the sonnets are meditated at such languishing length that the narrative suffers. This rather straightforward recital of sonnet after sonnet allows the themes of love, ageing (time/beauty) and morality to emerge.


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- William Tarvainen

Where there's a Will...

If thou survive my well-contented day,
When that churl Death my bones with dust shall cover,
And shalt by fortune once more re-survey
These poor rude lines of thy deceased lover,
Compare them with the bettering of the time,
And though they be outstripp'd by every pen,
Reserve them for my love, not for their rhyme,
Exceeded by the height of happier men.
O, then vouchsafe me but this loving thought:
'Had my friend's Muse grown with this growing age,
A dearer birth than this his love had brought,
To march in ranks of better equipage:
But since he died, and poets better prove,
Theirs for their style I'll read, his for his love.'

- William Shakespeare, 1590-ish (disputed)

There once was a young man called Will,
Who couldn't be happy until,
He'd written a sonnet,
And spent hours upon it,
Only then could he kick back and chill...

- Me, yesterday (undisputed, alas)

OK, well I'm not actually going to try to review the whole of Shakespeare's poetic output, obviously. I'm not nearly qualified enough to do so. Instead, I'll just say that the bard is one of my favourite poets. His work has resonated with me since I first studied it at school and I've returned to it time and again over the years. Actually, the fact that I know it so well enables me to just kick back and read it for pure, unadulterated pleasure, without the slightest taint of academia clawing away at my mind. Bliss.
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- Mr. P. D. Selman

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-08-2012
  • Publisher: Audio Connoisseur