William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare Poems

William Shakespeare is considered to be one of, if not the, most important English-language writers of all time. His plays and poems are read all over the world. Read more about William Shakespeare.

Some of Shakespeare’s most famous sonnets include Sonnet 18: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?, Sonnet 116: Let me not to the marriage of true mindsand Sonnet 130:  My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun.

Sonnet 18

by William Shakespeare

‘Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?,’ also known as ‘Sonnet 18,’ is one of the Fair Youth poems. It is addressed to a mysterious male figure that scholars have been unable to identify.

William Shakespeare's poetry is an enduring testament to the power of language and the human experience. His works, including 'Sonnet 18,' are renowned for their poetic beauty, philosophical depth, and emotional resonance. Through his verse, Shakespeare explores universal themes of love, loss, and the human condition, captivating readers and audiences across generations.

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer's lease hath all too short a date:

Explore more poems from William Shakespeare

Carpe Diem

by William Shakespeare

‘Carpe Diem’ by William Shakespeare is a love song from Twelfth Night, sung by Feste the clown/fool. It’s about love and youth. 

This is not a well-known Shakespeare poem compared to his best-known works. But it does include a few important and well-known lines.

O mistress mine, where are you roaming?

O stay and hear! your true-love's coming

That can sing both high and low;

Trip no further, pretty sweeting,

Wolsey’s Farewell to His Greatness

by William Shakespeare

‘Wolsey’s Farewell to His Greatness’ by William Shakespeare is a set of lines found in Act III Scene 2 of Henry VIII, a famous history play. The lines are spoken by Cardinal Wolsey, one of the King’s closest advisors. 

This is a great excerpt from a well-loved Shakespearean play. The lines demonstrate how much Shakespeare enjoyed writing with figurative language and how compelling his writing can be.

Farewell! a long farewell, to all my greatness!

This is the state of man: to-day he puts forth

The tender leaves of hope, to-morrow blossoms,

And bears his blushing honours thick upon him:

How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!

by William Shakespeare

‘How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!’ by William Shakespeare is an excerpt from The Merchant of Venice, a famous Shakespearean play. The lines are found in Act V Scene 1 and are spoken by Lorenzo.

This is not William Shakespeare's best-known play excerpt. Readers are likely to know some of his other poems and plays far better.

How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!

Here will we sit and let the sounds of music

Creep in our ears: soft stillness and the night

Become the touches of sweet harmony.

A Fairy Song

by William Shakespeare

‘A Fairy Song’ by William Shakespeare features in the well-loved play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s sung by a fairy and describes their work.

Over hill, over dale,

Thorough bush, thorough brier,

Over park, over pale,

Thorough flood, thorough fire!

All the world’s a stage

by William Shakespeare

‘All the world’s a stage’ is a well-known monologue found in William Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’. This speech of Jaques explores the seven ages of man and their implications.

All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts,

Double, Double Toil and Trouble from Macbeth

by William Shakespeare

‘Double, Double Toil and Trouble’ appears in the tragedy of ‘Macbeth’ by William Shakespeare. It is one of the “Song of the Witches” that appears in Act 4, Scene 1 of the play.

Round about the cauldron go;

In the poison’d entrails throw.

Toad, that under cold stone

Days and nights has thirty-one

Fear no more the heat o’ the sun by William Shakespeare

by William Shakespeare

‘Fear no more the heat o’ the sun’ is a song from the play Cymbeline, sung by Guiderius and Argiragus, the sons of Cymbeline. The song explores the reasons that death may not be so bad.

Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,

Nor the furious winter’s rages;

Thou thy worldly task hast done,

Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages:

Friends and Flatterers

by William Shakespeare

‘Friends and Flatterers’ by William Shakespeare is a powerful poem about friendship and how to spot those who are true and false. 

Every one that flatters thee

Is no friend in misery.

Words are easy, like the wind;

Faithful friends are hard to find:

Is This A Dagger Which I See Before Me (from Macbeth)

by William Shakespeare

‘Is This A Dagger Which I See Before Me’ is a soliloquy from Macbeth. It is one of the most famous soliloquies from Shakespeare, and it reveals Macbeth’s murderous plan to become to King.

Is this a dagger which I see before me,

The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.

I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.

Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible

Once More Unto The Breach (Henry V)

by William Shakespeare

From Henry V, ‘Once More Unto The Breach,’ without doubt, one of Shakespeare’s most rousing and iconic speeches. It has inspired motivational speeches from everywhere from Independence Day and Star Trek and remains a masterclass in rhetoric language to this day.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;

Or close the wall up with our English dead.

In peace there's nothing so becomes a man

As modest stillness and humility:

Our revels now are ended

by William Shakespeare

‘Our revels now are ended’ is the name given to one of the best-known speeches from William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. It can be found in Act IV, Scene 1, and is spoken by Prospero. 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, 

As I foretold you, were all spirits and 

Are melted into air, into thin air: 

And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, 

Romeo and Juliet Act I Prologue

by William Shakespeare

‘Romeo and Juliet Act I Prologue’ is a narrator spoken sonnet from ‘Romeo and Juliet’ which sets the scene, and alludes to events to come in Shakespeare’s world famous play.

Two households, both alike in dignity,

In fair Verona where we lay our scene,

From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,

Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.

Romeo and Juliet Act I Scene 5 Sonnet

by William Shakespeare

‘Romeo and Juliet Act I Scene 5 Sonnet’ is the second of three sonnets to appear in the famous play. In the poem, Romeo is likened to a pilgrim, while Juliet is the holy site awaiting Romeo to deliver his “prayer”.

If I profane with my unworthiest hand

This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:

My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand

To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.

Romeo and Juliet Act II Prologue

by William Shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet Act II Prologue’ is the third of three sonnets that appear within within Shakespeare’s best-known play. The unseen narrator speaks to the audience of the family dynamics at play, and of Romeo and Juliet’s new love, taking the place of old desires.

Now old desire doth in his death-bed lie,

And young affection gapes to be his heir;

That fair for which love groaned for and would die,

With tender Juliet matched is now not fair.

Sonnet 1

by William Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s first sonnet, ‘From fairest creatures we desire increase,’ serves to introduce many of the themes which echo through the rest of the collection.

From fairest creatures we desire increase,

That thereby beauty’s rose might never die,

But as the riper should by time decease,

His tender heir might bear his memory;

Sonnet 10

by William Shakespeare

Read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 10, also known as ‘For shame deny that thou bear’st love to any’, with a deep dive analysis into the poem.

For shame deny that thou bear'st love to any,

Who for thy self art so unprovident.

Grant, if thou wilt, thou art beloved of many,

But that thou none lov'st is most evident:

Sonnet 100

by William Shakespeare

Read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 100, ‘Where art thou, Muse, that thou forget’st so long,’ with a summary and complete analysis of the poem.

Where art thou Muse that thou forget'st so long,

To speak of that which gives thee all thy might?

Spend'st thou thy fury on some worthless song,

Darkening thy power to lend base subjects light?

Sonnet 101

by William Shakespeare

Read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 101, ‘O truant Muse what shall be thy amends,’ with a summary and complete analysis of the poem.

O truant Muse what shall be thy amends

For thy neglect of truth in beauty dyed?

Both truth and beauty on my love depends;

So dost thou too, and therein dignified.

Sonnet 102

by William Shakespeare

Read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 102, ‘My love is strengthen’d, though more weak in seeming,’ with a summary and complete analysis of the poem.

My love is strengthened, though more weak in seeming;

I love not less, though less the show appear;

That love is merchandized, whose rich esteeming,

The owner's tongue doth publish every where.

Sonnet 103

by William Shakespeare

Read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 103, ‘Alack! what poverty my Muse brings forth,’ with a summary and complete analysis of the poem.

Alack! what poverty my Muse brings forth,

That having such a scope to show her pride,

The argument all bare is of more worth

Than when it hath my added praise beside!

Sonnet 104

by William Shakespeare

Read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 104, ‘To me, fair friend, you never can be old,’ with a summary and complete analysis of the poem.

To me, fair friend, you never can be old,

For as you were when first your eye I ey'd,

Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold,

Have from the forests shook three summers' pride,

Sonnet 105

by William Shakespeare

Read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 105, ‘Let not my love be called idolatry,’ with a summary and complete analysis of the poem.

Let not my love be called idolatry,

Nor my beloved as an idol show,

Since all alike my songs and praises be

To one, of one, still such, and ever so.

Sonnet 106

by William Shakespeare

Read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 106, ‘When in the chronicle of wasted time,’ with a summary and complete analysis of the poem.

When in the chronicle of wasted time

I see descriptions of the fairest wights,

And beauty making beautiful old rhyme,

In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights,

Sonnet 107

by William Shakespeare

Read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 107, ‘Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul,’ with a summary and complete analysis of the poem.

Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul

Of the wide world dreaming on things to come,

Can yet the lease of my true love control,

Supposed as forfeit to a confined doom.

Sonnet 108

by William Shakespeare

Read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 108, ‘What’s in the brain that ink may character,’ with a summary and complete analysis of the poem.

What's in the brain that ink may character

Which hath not figured to thee my true spirit?

What's new to speak, what now to register,

That may express my love, or thy dear merit?

Sonnet 109

by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 109,’ also known as ‘O! never say that I was false of heart,’ is an expression of pure love and devotion unchanged by time and circumstance. 

O! never say that I was false of heart,

Though absence seemed my flame to qualify,

As easy might I from my self depart

As from my soul which in thy breast doth lie:

Sonnet 11

by William Shakespeare

Read Sonnet 11, also known as ‘As fast as thou shalt wane, so fast thou grow’st,’ with a deep dive analysis into the poem.

As fast as thou shalt wane, so fast thou grow'st

In one of thine, from that which thou departest;

And that fresh blood which youngly thou bestow'st,

Thou mayst call thine when thou from youth convertest.

Sonnet 110

by William Shakespeare

‘Sonnet 110,’ also known as ‘Alas, ’tis true I have gone here and there,’ is a poem about infidelity and the speaker’s realization that the Fair Youth is the only one he wants. 

Alas! 'tis true, I have gone here and there,

And made my self a motley to the view,

Gored mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear,

Made old offences of affections new;

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