Shakespeare's Sonnets can be seen as a prototype, or even the beginning, of a new kind of "modern" love poetry. During the eighteenth century, The Sonnets reputation in England was relatively low; as late as 1805, The Critical Review could still credit John Milton with the perfection of the English sonnet. As part of the renewed interest in Shakespeare's original work that accompanied Romanticism, The Sonnets rose steadily in reputation during the nineteenth century.
"The Sonnets" of William Shakespeare are a collection of 154 loosely connected 14 line poems. Considered by many to be among some of the greatest love poetry ever written much debate surrounds the context of the poetry. It has been suggested that the work may be semi-autobiographical but no real evidence firmly supports this notion. Regardless of their context, "The Sonnets" can be appreciated individually or as a whole as examples of William Shakespeare's true literary genius.
From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty's rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed'st thy light's flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thy self thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel:
Thou that art now the world's fresh ornament,
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content,
And tender churl mak'st waste in niggarding:
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee.