Shakespeare's poems, aside from the enduring appeal of the Sonnets,
are much less familiar today than his plays, despite being
enormously popular in his lifetime. This Introduction celebrates
the achievement of Shakespeare as a poet, providing students with
ways of understanding and enjoying his remarkable poems. It honours
the aesthetic and intellectual complexity of the poems without
making them seem unapproachably complicated, outlining their
exquisite pleasures and absorbing enigmas. Schoenfeldt suggests
that today's readers are better able to analyze aspects of the
poems that were formerly ignored or the source of scandal - the
articulation of a fervent same-sex love, for example, or the
incipient racism inherent in a hierarchy of light and dark. By
engaging closely with Shakespeare's major poems - 'Venus and
Adonis', 'Lucrece', 'The Phoenix and the Turtle', the Sonnets and
'A Lover's Complaint' - the Introduction demonstrates how much
these extraordinary poems still have to say to us.
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