William Shakespeare

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How Many Poems Did Shakespeare Write

How many poems did William Shakespeare write?

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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As you can see by the previous answers, this question is almost a trick question. Depending on whether you consider certain parts of Shakespeare’s famous plays “poems” or whether you consider works such as The Passionate Pilgrim as “poems” will affect your answer. In order not to write a dissertation on what it means to be a “poem” by debating minute aspects of this literary form, I would suggest making things simple and listing the number of Shakespeare’s poems as 156.

In order to make this answer as simple as possible, I would have to report the number of Shakespeare’s true poems as 156: Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets and his two agreed upon long narrative poems. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Shakespeare’s true love and his livelihood were his plays; however, something serious happened in London that prevented further performances: the plague. It is a fact that the plague forced the British government to close down many public places (specifically theaters) in order to prevent the spread. This was what left Shakespeare able to develop his poems. It is also interesting to note that almost all 156 of Shakespeare’s poems have the theme of love and are sensual in some way (while some are outright sexual). Shakespeare’s sonnets’ subject are an interesting debate in itself. Were they written for a woman? Shakespeare’s wife? A young male lover? No one really knows, but scholars have fun debating these ideas. It is generally known that the two longer narrative poems called Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece were written for a “supposed” male lover of Shakespeare’s: The Earl of Southampton. In fact, the two poems are dedicated to him.

In conclusion, although this eNotes Educator sets the number of Shakespeare’s poems at 154, she must admit that the eNotes Educators above are also “correct” in suggesting different numbers. There are excerpts of Shakespeare’s plays that are often considered poems. There are also other pieces like A Lover’s Complaint and The Passionate Pilgrim that can be argued either way. My answer, then, removes any work that scholars disagree upon in regards to the literary form.

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Tim Mbiti eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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William Shakespeare wrote poems between 1593 and 1594. A plague ravaging the country forced the closure of most public places, including theaters, offering him ample time to develop his poems. He wrote two long narrative poems which were erotically themed. The two poems include Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece . In the first poem, Venus sexually approaches Adonis, who rejects these advances. In the second poem, Tarquin, rapes Lucrece, a well-mannered wife. The poems were dedicated to the Earl of...

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Arely Baumbach eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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englishteacher72 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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menen1892 | Student

Currently, 154 sonnets and 3 narrative poems are attributed to William Shakespeare. Technically, sonnets are poems, but they are short and only have 14 lines. These sonnets or  poems by Shakespeare are written in iambic pentameter and feature a strict rhyming pattern. Shakespeare's 3 narrative poems are "A Lover's Complaint", "Venus and Adonis", and "The Rape of Lucrece". Narrative poems are long poems which are stories that are written in poetic verse. There may be more poems that have been written by William Shakespeare, but they have not been verified as being written by him at this current moment.