Poems about Desire

Sonnet 149 by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 149,’ also known as ‘Canst thou, O cruel! say I love thee not,’ is about the speaker’s love and lust for the Dark Lady. His interest in her has evolved into an obsession that controls his life.

Sonnet 151 by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 151,’ also known as ‘Love is too young to know what conscience is,’ is a lustful poem. It explores the speaker’s uncontrollable longing for the Dark Lady. 

Sonnet 148 by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 148,’ also known as ‘O me! What eyes hath Love put in my head,’ uses figurative language to describe the speaker’s state of mind. He’s blinded to his mistress’s faults, just like the sun becomes blinded by rain and clouds.

Sonnet 146 by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 146,’ also known as ‘Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth,’ addresses the state of the speaker’s soul. He admonishes it for allowing him to worry about earthly pleasures.

Sonnet 147 by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 147,’ also known as ‘My love is as a fever, longing still,’ is a dark poem. It expresses the speaker’s loss of control over his body and mind. The Dark Lady has consumed his life like an illness.

The Harlem Dancer by Claude McKay

‘The Harlem Dancer’ by Claude McKay is a thoughtful poem about a dancer’s inner life. It speaks on the duality of what people see and what people experience.

Harlem Shadows by Claude McKay

‘Harlem Shadows’ by Claude McKay memorably addresses the lives of Black sex workers in Harlem. The poet describes their experience while also acknowledging their strength.

Sonnet 143 by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 143,’ also known as ‘Lo, as a careful housewife runs to catch,’ uses a simile to depict the speaker’s feelings for the Dark Lady. He is described as a crying infant desperate for his mother’s return.

Sonnet 142 by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 142,’ also known as ‘Love is my sin, and thy dear virtue hate,’ is one of the sonnets Shakespeare wrote about the Dark Lady. It compares love and sin.

Sonnet 137 by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 137,’ also known as ‘Thou blind fool, Love, what dost thou to mine eyes,’ is about the speaker’s love for the Dark Lady. It condemns love for misleading the speaker about her.

Sonnet 135 by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 135,’ also known as ‘Whoever hath her wish, thou hast thy Will,’ is an unusual sonnet within Shakespeare’s oeuvre. It expresses the speaker’s desire to sleep with the Dark Lady and counted among her many lovers.

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