The 5 Most Romantic Shakespeare Sonnets

Fall in Love With Shakespeare's Best

The Shakespearean sonnets are considered by among the most romantic poems ever written. It was the bard who kickstarted the modern love poetry movement with a collection of 154 love sonnets. You can still hear many of these on Valentine's Day and in marriage ceremonies today.

Among the collection, a few stand out and are used repeatedly. Even if you are not a poetry fan, you may recognize some of the texts. They're sure to get anyone in a romantic mood. After all, they've worked for hundreds of years.

Shakespeare
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Sonnet 18 is considered by many to be one of the most beautifully written verses in the English language. It has long been prized because Shakespeare was able to capture the spirit of love so simply.

The sonnet begins with those immortal words:

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

It is a quintessential love poem and that is why it so often used on Valentine’s Day.

Sonnet 18 is also a perfect example of Shakespeare's ability to explain human emotion so succinctly. In just 14 lines—as is the format of a sonnet—Shakespeare explains that love is eternal. He poetically contrasts this with the seasons, which change throughout the year.

By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;

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Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 is one of the best-loved in the folio. It is a popular reading at weddings worldwide and the first line indicates why.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

The sonnet is a wonderfully celebratory nod to love and marriage. This is despite the fact that its reference to marriage is that of minds rather than the actual ceremony.

Also, the sonnet describes love as eternal and unfaltering, an idea reminiscent of the wedding vow, “in sickness and in health.” 

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out ev’n to the edge of doom.

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It's said that the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge found Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29 to be a personal favorite. It's no wonder, either. It examines how love is a cure-all for our troubles and worries.

It begins with a rather ominous scene, which makes one wonder how this could ever be a love poem.

When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,

Yet, by the end, it offers hope and the thought that these bad feelings can be overcome by inspiring love.

Haply I think on thee, and then my state, 
(Like to the lark at break of day arising 
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven's gate;

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Sonnet 1 is deceptive because, despite its name, scholars don't believe it was necessarily his first. 

Addressed to the so called “fair youth,” the poem includes a sequence in which the poet encourages his handsome male friend to have children. To do otherwise would prove selfish.

From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty's rose might never die,

The suggestion is that his beauty may live on through his children. If he did not to pass this on to future generations, he would only be greedy and pointlessly hoarding his beauty.

Within thine own bud buriest thy content
And, tender churl, makest waste in
niggarding.
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee.

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This sonnet has been described as Shakespeare’s most beautiful, but it is also one of his most complex. Certainly, it is less celebratory in its treatment of love than others, yet it is no less powerful.

In Sonnet 73, the poet is still addressing the "fair youth," but the concern is now how age will affect their love for one another.

In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west, 

As he addresses his love, the speaker hopes that their love will grow with time. It is the fire within that the lover sees, proving the potency and endurance of true love.

This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

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