The sonnets of William Shakespeare belong to the remarkable examples of lyrical poetry of the Renaissance. In total Shakespeare created 154 sonnet. Most of the works reveal the theme of love, but many of them are devoted to friendship, philosophical reflections, and sometimes they reflect the issues of artistic creativity. In the rich heritage of Shakespeare’s sonnets take a special place. They were not created by the author for publication, but were intended only for certain persons from the nearest encirclement of the poet. Sonnets Shakespeare began to write in the 1590’s, when this genre of poetry became fashionable.
A distinctive feature of Shakespeare’s sonnets is the transmission of the person’s subtle experiences in colorful, sometimes unexpected images. From many other sonnet cycles of the Renaissance, Shakespeare’s verses are distinguished by the fact that in them friendship is given preference over love. Friendship was considered an ideal
form of relationships, because it is free from sensuality. This is clearly expressed in many of Shakespeare’s sonnets. In some of them Shakespeare protests against the tradition of idealized depiction of women, as was customary in the lyrics since the days of courtly literature. For example, in the famous 130th sonnet, the author boldly contrasts the face of his beloved with a typical poetic portrait of a beautiful woman:
Her eyes on the stars are not alike,
You can not call coral names…
And yet she will give in to those hardly,
Whom in comparison lush slander.
In Shakespeare’s 66th sonnet, a gloomy assessment of the morals of a society dominated by lies and injustice. Shakespeare repeats these thoughts with the lips of Hamlet in his famous monologue “To Be or Not to Be.”
According to the mood of Shakespeare’s sonnet is closer to the second stage of his work, when the poet revealed the imperfection of the world order and the life of people.
His sonnets are of a confessional character. Examples of poetic confession can be found in many great poets. You can recall the poem of Pushkin, dedicated to Anna Kern, “I remember a wonderful moment…”. Poetry raises the artist over the level of everyday life. In verse, the phenomena of life acquire ideal beauty.
In Shakespeare’s sonnets, complex personal relationships, admiration for human perfection and noble friendship are guessed. In one of them the love of a certain dark-skinned with an elusive soul is described. Shakespeare thinks with the scales of eternity and at the same time conveys the sensations of a small, fragile, lightly human being.
The art of building sonnets to Shakespeare had already been four centuries old. According to the rules of sonnet lyrics, it was necessary to express thoughts and feelings in 14 lines with a predetermined scheme of rhymes. Among the first dozens of Shakespeare’s sonnets are many that resemble poems on a given topic. Such are, for example, the first 17 sonnets, where the poet persuades a friend to marry and have children. One can only be surprised at the imagination of the poet, who finds so many options for the expression of the same thought.
The theme of a multitude of Shakespeare’s sonnets is the transience of time, the doom of all beauty to wither and death. This topic was very common in the Renaissance lyrics, but Shakespeare found new artistic means for her expression.
Gradually, Shakespeare began to violate the canons of sonnet lyrics. In the conditional form of the sonnet, he introduced live passions, illuminated the topics that were not ethical in conception of the time.
If Shakespeare looked at his sonnets as a piece of intimate lyrics, then for us they have a deeper meaning. In personal feelings reflects the time in which the poet lived. The sonnets show the tragedy of the best people of the Renaissance. The lyrical hero first lives in an ideal world, but later he experiences the same collapse of illusions as Hamlet, like Shakespeare himself, the tragedy of the collapse of humanism. The truth of life turns out to be harsh, its experiences are excruciating for those who believed in the near triumph of beauty and reason.
The language of Shakespeare’s sonnets comes close to living speech, there are many imaginative comparisons taken from everyday life. In his lyrics Shakespeare used such artistic techniques that were suitable for revealing the topic. He did not belong to any school, nor to one current.
The best translations of Shakespeare’s sonnets are the translations of S. Ya. Marshak, which he did in the 1940s and for which he received the State Prize. Marshak was able to achieve the integrity of the impression produced by each sonnet. The poet reproduced the elasticity and energy of the Shakespearean poems, showed their refined and aphoristic nature. In fact, Marshak gave these works a new life. The significance of Shakespeare’s sonnets is still enormous in both world literature and Russian literature.