Here are 154 poems performed by by the wonderful Sir John Gielgud in this Shakepseare collection of the Sonnets.
Shakespeare's sonnets deal with such themes as the passage of time, love, beauty, and mortality. All but two of the poems were first published in a 1609 quarto entitled Shake-Speares Sonnets: Never before imprinted. Sonnets 138 and 144 had previously been published in a 1599 miscellany entitled The Passionate Pilgrim. The quarto ends with A Lover's Complaint, a narrative poem of 47 seven-line stanzas written in rhyme royal.
The first 17 sonnets, traditionally called the procreation sonnets, are ostensibly written to a young man, urging him to marry and have children in order to immortalise his beauty by passing it to the next generation. Other sonnets express the speaker's love for a young man; brood upon loneliness, death, and the transience of life; seem to criticise the young man for preferring a rival poet; express ambiguous feelings for the speaker's mistress; and pun on the poet's name. The final two sonnets are allegorical treatments of Greek epigrams referring to the little Love-god Cupid. Download and start listening now!