The Narrative Poems SHAK 38


Venus and Adonis
The Rape of Lucrece
The Phoenix and Turtle

In 1593 and 1594, when the theatres were closed because of plague, Shakespeare published two narrative poems on erotic themes, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. He dedicated them to Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. In Venus and Adonis, an innocent Adonis rejects the sexual advances of Venus; while in The Rape of Lucrece, the virtuous wife Lucrece is raped by the lustful Tarquin.[132] Influenced by Ovid's Metamorphoses,[133] the poems show the guilt and moral confusion that result from uncontrolled lust.[134] Both proved popular and were often reprinted during Shakespeare's lifetime.
The Phoenix and the Turtle, printed in Robert Chester's 1601 Love's Martyr, mourns the deaths of the legendary phoenix and his lover, the faithful turtle dove.

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