Best Shakespeare Sonnets

Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets are all poems of the highest quality, but there are some that have entered deeply into the public consciousness and become some of Shakespeare’s most famous work.

These most famous sonnets are quoted regularly by people at all levels of modern Western life – sometimes without even realising that they are quoting a line from one of William Shakespeare’s sonnets.

Shakespeare’s most famous sonnets explore the subject of death, love, and the slow ageing process that precedes it.

Shakespeare is well-known for his sonnets.

Here are our top picks for the most famous Shakespeare sonnet

Sonnet 1From fairest creatures we desire increase

Sonnet 2-When forty winters shall beseige thy brow

Sonnet 3-Look in thy glass, and tell the face thou viewest

Sonnet 4-Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend

Sonnet 5-Those hours, that with gentle work did frame

Sonnet 6-Then let not winter’s ragged hand deface

Sonnet 7-Lo! in the orient when the gracious light

Sonnet 8-Music to hear, why hear’st thou music sadly?

Sonnet 9-Is it for fear to wet a widow’s eye

Sonnet 10-For shame! deny that thou bear’st love to any,

Sonnet 11-As fast as thou shalt wane, so fast thou growest

Sonnet 12-When I do count the clock that tells the time,

Sonnet 18: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Truly a gift from Shakespeare himself, Sonnet 18 is an exemplary work of literature. Its verses are as powerful as they are eloquent.

Shakespeare addresses a young man to whom he is very close.

It would be difficult to assess whether Shakespeare was a humble man as there is no available information. It is also difficult to know if he thought of himself as the great, immortal writer that we idolize him as today.

After describing the youth, the poet says that his poetry will live on forever.

Sonnet 30: When to the sessions of sweet silent thought

An interesting take on love and ageing.

The narrator has a variety of regrets that he agonises over as he descends into old age.

In addition to this, he also feels immense pain from having to relive the mistakes that he has made.

However, when the narrator thinks about his beloved, all of these regrets and this sense of pain evaporate.

Sonnet 33: Full many a glorious morning have I seen

This is a poem about loss. It’s about the loss of someone dear, a loved one .

Shakespeare makes the contrast between morning sun and clouds, and how we feel about them.

When he was loved by the beloved it felt like a glorious morning, but now that he’s lost the beloved it feels like an overcast and gloomy morning.

He says that he doesn’t condemn the person he loves because human weakness is just as much a part of life as the clouds are.

Sonnet 73: That time of year thou mayst in me behold

The narrator of Sonnet 73 is approaching death and thinking about how different it is from being young. I

It’s like the glowing ashes of a fire that once roared, providing light and warmth.

The things that one gave him life have destroyed his life.

He learned that you need to love life as much as possible because it’s going to end sooner than you think.

Sonnet 104: To me, fair friend, you never can be old

Sonnet 116: Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments

Sonnet 129: The expense of spirit in a waste of shame

Sonnet 130: My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun


Shakespeare’s sonnets are among the most famous poems in the English language.

They are written in an age when love was seen as a divine gift, which meant that it could be “falling” rather than “flying.”

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