Sonnet Popularity

On the whole plays vs poems thing, Carl just gave me the idea to search for “Shakespeare’s sonnet ##”.  Want to know which ones are the most popular? First is #1, which I suppose makes sense, gotta start somewhere. Second is #20.  That’s the, ahem, "gay one".  That is, that’s the one that’s supposedly proof that Shakespeare’s homosexual. Next comes #30.  I have no idea why that one’s so special. Then we get to some favorites: #18 (“Shall I compare thee”, perhaps the most famous of them all) #29 (“When in disgrace, with Fortune and men’s eyes”).  I wonder if the Rufus Wainwright musical version has anything to do with that. #73.   I like this one. #130 (“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”). #116 (“Let me not to the marriage of true minds….”) aka the Wedding Sonnet.   Although the order is questionable, I guess the only real surprise is #30.  One of my experts out there want to enlighten us on why that one deserves to be in the top 10?   D

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4 thoughts on “Sonnet Popularity

  1. I am surprised about the popularity of #30 only because I would have thought it one of the "hidden gems." This is a particularly beautiful sonnet, one of the most elegant examples of the use of alliteration in the English language. It is very similar in theme to #29, almost an echo of it in a different vein, something we see happening in The Sonnets not infrequently. There is varied once again in #31, which I like even better, especially for its couplet. The three sonnets, 29-31, are inspiring to read one after another. But I think it is the brilliant use of alliteration that attracts readers to #30.

  2. "When to the sessions of sweet silent thought*" is a very beautiful poem, but I imagine it gets a lot of search-engine traffic on account of supplying the English title for Proust's _A la Recherche du Temps Perdu_: "Remembrance of Things Past."

    *I can't remember any of the numbers, not even 18 or 130; I always have to look up the first line.

  3. Hi all,
    sonnet 29:
    when in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes
    and sonnet 30 when to the sessions of sweet silent thought are a great couple of sonnets. As Carl says, similar in theme and an echo of each other.

    Also notice the jump, volta or turn in the argument in 29 is between lines 8 and 9 as is 'normal'. And in sonnet 30 it holds off so the author can squeeze out a bit more sibilance and alliteration until the turn between the 12 and 13th lines.

    Playing with the form.

    yours, Will

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