In Shakespeare's era (1564-1616), it was not profitable but very fashionable to write poetry. It also provided credibility to his talent as a writer and helped to enhance his social standing. It seems writing poetry was something he greatly enjoyed and did mainly for himself at times when he was not consumed with writing a play.Because of their more private nature, few poems, particularly long-form poems, have been published.
The two longest works that scholars agree were written by Shakespeare are entitled Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. Both dedicated to the Honorable Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, who seems to have acted as a sponsor and encouraging benefactor of Shakespeare's work for a brief time.
Both of these poems contain dozens of stanzas and comment on the depravity of unwanted sexual advances, showing themes throughout of guilt, lust, and moral confusion. In Venus and Adonis, an innocent Adonis must reject the sexual advances of Venus. Conversely in The Rape of Lucrece, the honorable and virtuous wife Lucrece is raped a character
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- A third and shorter narrative poem, A Lover's Complaint, was printed in the first collection of Shakespeare's sonnets. Most scholars agree now that it was also written by Shakespeare, though that was contested for some time. The poem tells the story of a young woman who is driven to misery by a persuasive suitor's attempts to seduce her. It is not regarded by critics to be his finest work.
Another short poem; The Phoenix and the Turtle, despairs the death of a legendary phoenix and his faithful turtle dove lover. It speaks to the frailty of love and commitment in a world where only death is certain.
Another short poem, The Phoenix and the Turtle, despairs the death of a legendary phoenix and his faithful turtle dove lover. It speaks to the frailty of love and commitment in a world where only death is certain.