The top ten greatest sonnets by William Shakespeare, selected by Dr Oliver Tearle
Previously, we’ve analysed a good number of Shakespeare’s sonnets here at Interesting Literature, offering a brief summary and analysis of the sonnet in question and exploring its most significant points of interest. But we gave up analysing every single sonnet by the time we got to around a third of the way in. Not every Shakespeare sonnet is a classic, simply because it was written by the Bard. Below, we’ve chosen ten of the very best Shakespeare sonnets.
Sonnet 18 (‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’).
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…
This is where Shakespeare’s Sonnets start to get interesting, after the opening sequence of 17 ‘Procreation Sonnets’. Boasting one of the most famous opening lines in all of English verse, Sonnet 18 shows that Shakespeare is already sure that his poetry will guarantee the young man his immortality after all.