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Venus and Adonis

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Classic Book for the Kindle: Venus and Adonis by William Shakespeare ********************************** We are pleased to offer thousands of books for the Kindle, including thousands of hard-to-find literature and classic fiction books. Click on our Editor Name (eBook-Ventures) next to the book title above to view all of the titles that are currently available. ********** Classic Book for the Kindle: Venus and Adonis by William Shakespeare ********************************** We are pleased to offer thousands of books for the Kindle, including thousands of hard-to-find literature and classic fiction books. Click on our Editor Name (eBook-Ventures) next to the book title above to view all of the titles that are currently available. **********************************


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Classic Book for the Kindle: Venus and Adonis by William Shakespeare ********************************** We are pleased to offer thousands of books for the Kindle, including thousands of hard-to-find literature and classic fiction books. Click on our Editor Name (eBook-Ventures) next to the book title above to view all of the titles that are currently available. ********** Classic Book for the Kindle: Venus and Adonis by William Shakespeare ********************************** We are pleased to offer thousands of books for the Kindle, including thousands of hard-to-find literature and classic fiction books. Click on our Editor Name (eBook-Ventures) next to the book title above to view all of the titles that are currently available. **********************************

30 review for Venus and Adonis

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jibran

    Poor queen of love, in thine own law forlorn To love a cheek that smiles at thee in scorn! Males are pursuers and females pursued. Nowhere does this more in evidence than in the animal kingdom. In the act of copulation males offer and females accept; males give and females take; males perform the act, and on females, the act is performed. Or so goes the conventional view. But if evolutionary biology is to be believed, all species are obliged to spread their genes around to ensure continued existen Poor queen of love, in thine own law forlorn To love a cheek that smiles at thee in scorn! Males are pursuers and females pursued. Nowhere does this more in evidence than in the animal kingdom. In the act of copulation males offer and females accept; males give and females take; males perform the act, and on females, the act is performed. Or so goes the conventional view. But if evolutionary biology is to be believed, all species are obliged to spread their genes around to ensure continued existence of their type. If reproduction is the singly unique purpose of life, any behavior that subverts that purpose, such as evasion on the part of the pursued, is a hindrance whose raison d'être is owed more to incidental, and probably misconstrued, threats to one’s wellbeing than a natural response to some evolutionary compulsion. In other words, relegating male and female amatory behaviour to the role, respectively, of the pursuer and the pursued, is a social construct and, like the history of ideas, might well fall in the realm of the history of social behavior of the human species. Many writers from the time of Ovid down to the present day, perhaps in the spirit of contrariness, have explored the idea of male coyness to contrast it with female boldness, challenging the conventional wisdom, and thus disturbing the secure notion of the pursuer and the pursued with tantalizing results. Here in the lush playground of this poem Shakespeare extends the franchise with his own retelling of the luscious story of Venus and Adonis. He burns with bashful shame; she with her tears Doth quench the maiden burning of his cheeks. Then with her windy sighs and golden hairs To fan and blow them dry she seeks. __He saith she is immodest, blames her miss; __What follows more, she murders with a kiss The poem is like a one-act play wherein Venus goes to great persuasive lengths, in a series of claspings and clingings, to win the amorous favours of Adonis who, in his baffling reticence, evades her like a doe with ears alert in alarm, listening to the timid murmurings of danger. Venus entices him with the promise of her beauty, but when At this Adonis smiles as in disdain / That in each cheek appears a pretty dimple, she, exasperated, compares him to Narcissus, rhetorically asking, Is thine own heart to thine own face affected? She urges a carpe diem approach in seizing the moment of pleasure: Make use of time, let not advantage slip; / Beauty within itself should not be wasted / Fair flowers that are not gathered in their prime / Rot and consume themselves in little time. She ups the ante with playful double entendres to arouse the young man’s desire comparing herself to a park and him to a deer who is invited to Feed where thou wilt, on mountain or in dale; / Graze upon my lips; and if those hills be dry, / Stray lower, where the pleasant fountains lie. Delights await him. If he wills, he may take a leisurely walk on the sweet bottom grass and take a climb atop the round rising hillocks of her park! When all else fails she invokes the 'law of nature' according to which living beings must reproduce themselves if they want to conquer time and death. Adonis accuses her of rationalising her lust, O strange excuse, / When reason is the bawd to lust’s abuse!; and he pleads his youth and his inexperience, Measure my strangeness with my unripe years / Before I know myself, seek not to know me. To assuage his injured manliness Adonis takes leave to go on a boar hunt with his friends. This makes the second half of the poem. Here Shakespeare inlays playful sensuousness with ironic humour, to create an elegant and entertaining picture of the two conflicted lovers and their pathos. Venus, taking him at his word for his untested youth, senses in it a danger to Adonis' life, and advises him against such rash adventure. When he persists, she pulls him off his horse, and tucks him under the arm, pouting and blushing; when he wrenches free from her tight and embarrassing grip (she manages to steal a damp kiss too!), he turns back to mount his horse, only to find it gone in chase of a stray mare. Adonis nonetheless spurns her entreaties and flees, dead set in his goal to hunt the boar, and meets the tragic end, in a darkly humourous ironic twist: "'Tis true, 'tis true! Thus was Adonis slain: He ran upon the boar with his sharp spear, Who did not whet his teeth at him again, But by a kiss thought to persuade him there; __And, nuzzling in his flank, the loving swine __Sheathed unaware the tusk in his soft groin. As one can infer, not much happens in the poem, with each trying to convince the other of the superiority of their position in an extended, painful, and playful argument which neither wins. Shakespeare does not allow for the development of the characters; they are one-dimensional and flat, symbols representing contrasting attitudes to love. In that the poem may be seen as an allegory in which Adonis represents the rational principle of cautious control in the face of worldly snares as represented by the wanton goddess of erotic love. But this interpretation is frustrated by another reading where the wild boar and the unbridled horse symbolise uncontrolled passions that contradictory approaches to life try to rein in, one, by route of avoidance; the other, by way of taking it head on. This seems to be the case when you consider Venus’ warnings of hunt. This allegorical aspect gives the poem a certain seriousness which is matched by delightful metaphors of sensuous love that makes it a highly entertaining read. Yet, the allegoric content is not central to this poem; it stands on its own as a direct, emotionally charged poem spiced with eros. At any rate, the poem offers an ambiguous view of love as sublime and earthly, gentle and wanton, rational and fickle – that cannot be explained in singular terms. I was surprised to learn that Venus and Adonis is Shakespeare's first published work, and a fine example of his stylised diction, rich imagery, engaging dialogue, turns of phrase, philosophical ambiguity, and character ambivalence, that set him on course to penning more amatory poems, culminating in the gems we know as Sonnets. PS: Italics are direct quotes. May 2015

  2. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Zapata

    I have read quite a few of Shakespeare's plays, but hardly any of his poems or sonnets. I read an excerpt from Venus And Adonis in a book of poetry with horses as the main theme, and I became curious to read the entire poem. First I read at Wiki that Shakespeare was inspired by Ovid's Metamorphosis, which is on my Someday List and will now move up on that list because I want to read Ovid's version of the story. Once again according to Wiki, Shakespeare changed it in order to have Adonis refuse th I have read quite a few of Shakespeare's plays, but hardly any of his poems or sonnets. I read an excerpt from Venus And Adonis in a book of poetry with horses as the main theme, and I became curious to read the entire poem. First I read at Wiki that Shakespeare was inspired by Ovid's Metamorphosis, which is on my Someday List and will now move up on that list because I want to read Ovid's version of the story. Once again according to Wiki, Shakespeare changed it in order to have Adonis refuse the lusty attentions of the goddess Venus. For one thing I did not even know refusing her was possible, for another I wondered why would Shakespeare choose that slant? To me Adonis comes across as cold, scared of the goddess/woman who is offering herself to him, and more than a little dense. Of course the writing was lovely. I mean, it is Shakespeare, after all. And the lines describing the horse perfectly captures the spirit of a frisky stallion showing off for a possible mate. Maybe Shakespeare used the horse sequence and the entire poem to declare that the male should be the instigator in affairs of the heart? Not being a scholar, I do not know about Shakespeare's possible ulterior motives here. All I know is that I do not agree with the idea of the male needing to be the one to make the first move, and I know that I want to read Ovid now.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Roger Brunyate

      Unsustained Erotic Tension I have recently reviewed Ted Hughes' Tales from Ovid. One episode in it that I found curiously unsatisfying is the famous story of Venus and Adonis. There is not much to it, either in Hughes or in the original Ovid. Venus tries to seduce the handsome Adonis, but he rejects her, preferring to be out hunting the wild boar. She tells him, as a cautionary tale, the story of Atalanta—a digression that takes up half the entire episode, and seems to have very little to do wit   Unsustained Erotic Tension I have recently reviewed Ted Hughes' Tales from Ovid. One episode in it that I found curiously unsatisfying is the famous story of Venus and Adonis. There is not much to it, either in Hughes or in the original Ovid. Venus tries to seduce the handsome Adonis, but he rejects her, preferring to be out hunting the wild boar. She tells him, as a cautionary tale, the story of Atalanta—a digression that takes up half the entire episode, and seems to have very little to do with the current situation.* But Adonis is not to be dissuaded; he pursues the boar, is killed by it, and his body is turned by Venus into a flower. Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis, published in 1593, is a long narrative poem of about 1,200 lines, based on Ovid and possibly other sources.** As he leaves out the Atalanta digression, there is even less story in it than the Ovid. There are many echoes, certainly, of the early sonnets, for example the idea that beauty should mate, so as to preserve a copy of itself in the resultant offspring. There is a lot of musing about the nature of love and physical attraction. But very little action, since Adonis does not reciprocate the advances of the goddess. Surprisingly for Shakespeare, the poem is quite undramatic; I see that it has been staged, but I cannot imagine how.*** Any lack of drama has little to do with Venus' passion. She is extremely aggressive, coming over as the huntress herself, eventually tackling Adonis to the ground. And there is little doubt, for those who know how to read Elizabethan imagery, that she is offering herself in totality. Read this passage with the understanding that the "park" is the private game preserve of her body, and that its various features encourage Adonis to explore, as John Donne put it, "Before, behind, between, above, below": "Fondling," she saith, "Since I have hemmed thee here Within the circuit of this ivory pale, I’ll be a park, and thou shalt be my deer: Feed where thou wilt, on mountain, or in dale; Graze on my lips, and if those hills be dry, Stray lower, where the pleasant fountains lie. "Within this limit is relief enough, Sweet bottom grass, and high delightful plain, Round rising hillocks, brakes obscure and rough, To shelter thee from tempest, and from rain: Then be my deer, since I am such a park. No dog shall rouse thee, though a thousand bark." But this comes relatively early in the poem. If Adonis is not going to reciprocate, there is nowhere this can go. Even when Venus faints, and Adonis kneels astride of her to rouse her, she is still denied: Now is she in the very lists of love, Her champion mounted for the hot encounter: All is imaginary she doth prove, He will not manage her, although he mount her; That worse than Tantalus' is her annoy, To clip Elysium and to lack her joy. In short, there is a curious discrepancy between the erotic intent and the available repertoire; fervent kisses only get you so far. Even though Shakespeare fills in 100 lines or so with an episode in which Adonis' stallion breaks his bridle to chase after a mare in heat, there is not enough in the situation to sustain interest (or at least my interest). The stanzaic form (sesta rima, or ababcc) results in a series of mini-punchlines, giving a sort of limping effect. And neither character is easy to identify with. Venus is merely predatory, and Adonis comes across as a bit of a prude, as when he lectures her on the difference between lust and love: Love comforteth like sunshine after rain, But Lust's effect is tempest after sun; Love's gentle spring doth always fresh remain, Lust's winter comes ere summer half be done. Love surfeits not, Lust like a glutton dies; Love is all truth, Lust full of forgèd lies. It's neat certainly, but how much better would Shakespeare express the same theme in Sonnet 129, "The expense of spirit in a waste of shame." By this time, of course, he was much more experienced as a poet, and the sonnet form is much more compact that the multi-stanzaic ode. But more than that: he had experienced the corrosive power of lust; he was no longer philosophizing from the outside, but writhing from within. That sonnet is intrinsically more dramatic than anything in Venus and Adonis. I will say, however, that the end of Shakespeare's poem is quite effective. Venus, fearing the worst, goes to look for Adonis. She is relieved to hear the distant cries of huntsmen, thinking her fears are groundless and that Adonis is leading a successful hunt. Which makes it all the more effective when she comes upon his body, gored with horrible irony through the groin. ====== * One of the tales about Atalanta does involve a hunt, in which she helped her lover Meleager kill the monstrous Calydonian boar (illustration below), but that is wholly successful and it is not the story Venus tells. Ovid's goddess recounts the story of the race that Atalanta loses to Hippomenes, after which she marries him; the couple are changed into lions after they make love in a temple without preceding it by the proper rites. But this is a fate that comes after having sex, not refusing it as Adonis does. ** Immediately after this, I read Marlowe's poem Hero and Leander from about the same date, that Shakespeare may have known. Although incomplete, I find it intensely dramatic and altogether more successful. I have reviewed it elsewhere. *** There is a short modern-dress film by Edward Lui. The two actors declaim the text well, but it involves heavy cutting to turn Shakespeare's extended verse treatment into meaningful dialogue. It is beautiful in a way, but hardly at all erotic. ====== Illustrations, top to bottom: Titian, Rubens, Regnault, Bottala, 16th century unknown.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Olivia-Savannah Roach

    This was a pretty enjoyable read. It had a lot to do with love and everything do with that emotion. But I liked the way it ended, and I liked the way it was written, with the rhyme and the meter. And overall it definitely said something about desire, and chasing someone else, rejection and jealousy. Shakespeare doesn't ever really disappoint, does he? This was a quick read for university.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Melora

    Well, That was... different. Being Shakespeare, the poetry is lovely and imaginative and evocative, and even in this early work he is using language (rhetorical devices) with great dexterity and to good effect. But the story is more than a little... silly. I read the introduction (I actually read this in a Folger edition, Shakespeare's Sonnets & Poems, and I dug out Metamorphoses and looked up Ovid's Venus and Adonis (which is quite different), and I still found Shakespeare's Venus to be so outr Well, That was... different. Being Shakespeare, the poetry is lovely and imaginative and evocative, and even in this early work he is using language (rhetorical devices) with great dexterity and to good effect. But the story is more than a little... silly. I read the introduction (I actually read this in a Folger edition, Shakespeare's Sonnets & Poems, and I dug out Metamorphoses and looked up Ovid's Venus and Adonis (which is quite different), and I still found Shakespeare's Venus to be so outrageously lusty and yet, simultaneously, whiny, and Adonis so dull and pouty (not that he doesn't have cause to pout, but we never see even the slightest glimmer of what Venus finds so magnetic about him -- he is devoid of spark or sparkle, and his great qualities seem to be that he's really pretty and has super nice breath) that I couldn't bring myself to care how things came out for them. Venus's antics just make her look ridiculous, and I felt a lot sorrier for Adonis's hounds than for him when he finally met his fate. Still, the poetry is beautiful, and it's not long, and this is the year I read All of Shakespeare, so on we go!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    Light and lovely with a slight comic touch emphasized by the three readers: Venus attempts to seduce Adonis but he would prefer to go boar hunting. This is the first poem I've ever read/listened to by Shakespeare, and perhaps Shakespeare is best heard than read. So I'm going to listen to more Shakespeare.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Vaishali

    Overly melodramatic. I can't help but wonder how Elizabethans reacted to such raunchy subject matter.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Rollins

    Highly accessible poem, beautifully metered. Will remind you that Shakespeare deserves to be Shakespeare.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    This tells the bitter sweet story of Venus as she tries in vain to obtain the attentions of her true love Adonis. Written more as a narration by Venus than a 'typical' poem, it doesn't flow like you would expect, however the words are still as vivid and powerful as you would expect from Shakespeare. An enjoyable read, if you can manage to read to the punctuation rather than the rhymes, as Shakespeare intended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    jtabz

    I think this deliberate meditation on incompletion fares much better than Marlowe's Hero and Leander--perhaps unfairly, since Shakespeare didn't drop dead before its publication, thus casting doubt on the poem's intended context. Shakespeare is also way funnier than Marlowe. Take that, Rupert Everett.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Julia Reim

    This was written very beautiful and emotional but I didn't like the "plot" at all. Venus seemed to be really dislikable and annoying so that the reader didn't really care about her pain in the end

  12. 5 out of 5

    Stacy

    I'm amazed at how many sayings we have nowadays come from Shakespeare. How different our language would be without him! This poem is sad but beautiful. I love reading the different works of Shakespeare.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stefantis

    I respect Williams poems, so much more then his plays.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Eduard

    Read as part of 'The Oxford Shakespeare - Histories with the Poems and Sonnets, edited by Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor. I have never heard of the story of Venus and Adonis which as I found out, was originally written by Ovid in the 10th book of his Metamorphoses. In the summer of 1592, a terrible plague hit London, and the theatres were closed as to prevent further infection. This has forced Shakespeare to consider an alternative career, which led to the creation of his narrative poems, Venus an Read as part of 'The Oxford Shakespeare - Histories with the Poems and Sonnets, edited by Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor. I have never heard of the story of Venus and Adonis which as I found out, was originally written by Ovid in the 10th book of his Metamorphoses. In the summer of 1592, a terrible plague hit London, and the theatres were closed as to prevent further infection. This has forced Shakespeare to consider an alternative career, which led to the creation of his narrative poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece both dedicated to Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. As I aforementioned, the tale of the goddes of love and her beautiful mortal, was first written by Ovid, as an erotic narrative poem. However, Shakespeare used his genius to present the tale in a different way but while also adding a new episode(in which Adonis' stallion lusts after the mare) Venus, the goddess of love, desires one mortal man by the name of Adonis. Yet " She's love;she loves; and yet she is not loved ". Adonis, refuses Venus' affection which he thought to be just a merely act of lust, " lust full of forged lies"' Adonis goes and follow his passion, hunting, (view spoiler)[ and is murdered by a boar. (hide spoiler)] However, this is one of Shakespeare's first attempts at narrative poems, and it shows, the story being somehow disjointed and sometimes repetitive. Its opening was strong, but in the middle of the poem, it loses substance and it felt like it strays from the story that it wants to tell. It does come back in the end, accompanied by Shakespeare's beautiful language. In the end, Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis features a marvelous use of words but lacks in terms of overall content.

  15. 5 out of 5

    V

    Read this today and loved it. Here are some resources for you: http://www.william-shakespeare.info/w... http://librivox.org/venus-and-adonis-... (audio at the bottom). And here is some interesting commentary: http://www.quaternaryinstitute.com/pl... I was really surprised how approachable this poem was. The language didn’t feel archaic and I understood most of this beautiful poem. I love the imagery, metaphor, and sound in the poem. Shakespeare really puts you in the scene. I really like these lines Read this today and loved it. Here are some resources for you: http://www.william-shakespeare.info/w... http://librivox.org/venus-and-adonis-... (audio at the bottom). And here is some interesting commentary: http://www.quaternaryinstitute.com/pl... I was really surprised how approachable this poem was. The language didn’t feel archaic and I understood most of this beautiful poem. I love the imagery, metaphor, and sound in the poem. Shakespeare really puts you in the scene. I really like these lines: “No dog shall rouse thee, though a thousand bark” “Had I no eyes but ears, my ears would love. That inward beauty and invisible; Or were I deaf, thy outward parts would move each part in me that were but sensible: Though neither eyes nor ears, to hear nor see, yet should I be in love by touching thee.” “Affection is a coal that must be cooled; Else, suffered, it will set the heart on fire.” “Lovers’ hours are long, though seeming short.” And his awesome description of the horse: “Round-hoofed, short-jointed, fetlocks shag and long, Broad breast, full eye, small head and nostril wide, High crest, short ears, straight legs and passing strong, Thin mane, thick tail, broad buttock, tender hide: Look, what a horse should have he did not lack. Save a proud rider on so proud a back.”

  16. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    Excerpt from my blog post on Venus and Adonis: "Venus and Adonis is more like the bastard child of a sonnet and a play. Most of it is written as an ode, but it’s an ode that’s spoken by Venus within the narrative. Much of the poem is actually a conversation, which makes me wonder why it didn’t end up as a play instead. I think I have myself to blame for the level of discomfort I felt reading this poem. I never thought of myself as someone with a narrow view of poetry (or art in general), but I fel Excerpt from my blog post on Venus and Adonis: "Venus and Adonis is more like the bastard child of a sonnet and a play. Most of it is written as an ode, but it’s an ode that’s spoken by Venus within the narrative. Much of the poem is actually a conversation, which makes me wonder why it didn’t end up as a play instead. I think I have myself to blame for the level of discomfort I felt reading this poem. I never thought of myself as someone with a narrow view of poetry (or art in general), but I felt myself rejecting this poem just because it felt different. I am used to poetry that flows and feels soft and smooth. With Venus and Adonis, I found myself tripping over words and reading the rhymes instead of the punctuation (a Shakespeare no-no). Poetry doesn’t have to be beautiful, but I’m accustomed to it being emotionally moving. This poem throws dissonance at the reader like pitcher who’s gunning for a no hitter (I just have no idea if I accurately used a sports analogy, so bear with me)." To read more of this and other Shakespeare reviews, check out yearofthebard.wordpress.com

  17. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa J.

    This poem tells the tale of Venus trying to make Adonis love her and her failure. The writing, as with all Shakespeare's works, is magnificent and beautiful. I don't usually like poetry, but I found myself liking this one. Anyway, better for you to read it for yourselves.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    Short review: Cougar godess Venus tries to put the moves on young Adonis but he's got things to do. Longer review to follow.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mythlee

    I'd read this once, long ago, but had forgotten how funny it is at times. The ribaldry is wonderfully overt: Fondling, she saith, since I have hemmed thee here / Within the circuit of this ivory pale, / I’ll be a park, and thou shalt be my deer. / Feed where thou wilt, on mountain or in dale; / Graze on my lips, and if those hills be dry, / Stray lower, where the pleasant fountains lie. (229-34) Within this limit is relief enough, / Sweet bottom-grass and high delightful plain, / Round rising hillo I'd read this once, long ago, but had forgotten how funny it is at times. The ribaldry is wonderfully overt: Fondling, she saith, since I have hemmed thee here / Within the circuit of this ivory pale, / I’ll be a park, and thou shalt be my deer. / Feed where thou wilt, on mountain or in dale; / Graze on my lips, and if those hills be dry, / Stray lower, where the pleasant fountains lie. (229-34) Within this limit is relief enough, / Sweet bottom-grass and high delightful plain, / Round rising hillocks, brakes obscure and rough, / To shelter thee from tempest and from rain. / Then be my deer, since I am such a park; / No dog shall rouse thee, though a thousand bark. (235-40) He has really only a few lines, of course, which is perhaps a nice change from the bard's usual pattern. My favorite is this one, when she has pulled him on top of her: “Fie, fie,” he says, “you crush me. Let me go. / You have no reason to withhold me so.” (611-12)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    I just couldn’t keep going. I read 2/5 of it and it bored me to tears. Had I been interested in the development of Shakespeare’s writing, perhaps I could have enjoyed it, but 20 pages of, “Love me! Love me! Kiss me! Let me kiss you!” And, “No! No! You can’t make me! No!” was more than enough. The cadence is lovely, the vocabulary rich and interesting, but the sentiment and “plot” so annoying that I had to give up and rate it only two stars. I’m shocked at myself!! And to think that in those days I just couldn’t keep going. I read 2/5 of it and it bored me to tears. Had I been interested in the development of Shakespeare’s writing, perhaps I could have enjoyed it, but 20 pages of, “Love me! Love me! Kiss me! Let me kiss you!” And, “No! No! You can’t make me! No!” was more than enough. The cadence is lovely, the vocabulary rich and interesting, but the sentiment and “plot” so annoying that I had to give up and rate it only two stars. I’m shocked at myself!! And to think that in those days writing plays wasn’t admired, whereas lousy poetry was.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    4.5 Stars I really enjoyed this one, very engaging and emotional I know I didn't get it all on the first read, but I would happily read it again. I didn't know it was based on Ovid's Metamorphosis, maybe after I read that I will come back to this. Read as a part of my quest to read ALL of Shakespeare. Almost there!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Elisabeth Bridges

    Venus is a real creepster in this, ya know what I'm saying?

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alec Lurie

    Interesting. Beautifully written. So damn long.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gordan Karlic

    Not strong in poetry. It kinda differs from the mythological story. Ok, I guess.

  25. 4 out of 5

    David Pickett

    Beautiful use of language, but the content really brings this poem down. Venus is wayyyyy too lusty over a very boring young and pouty Adonis.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Anand

    That this poem was among the most popular works of Shakespeare at its time, and that it is now one of his least popular, is a curious and yet understandable reality. Marlowe’s Hero and Leander seems more intensely erotic and thus more passionate than this sometimes strange poem of Shakespeare’s. Its main subject, the story of Venus and Adonis, received its most memorable treatment in antiquity in Ovid’s Metamorphoses (which was probably Shakespeare’s favorite classical work) where it’s filtered That this poem was among the most popular works of Shakespeare at its time, and that it is now one of his least popular, is a curious and yet understandable reality. Marlowe’s Hero and Leander seems more intensely erotic and thus more passionate than this sometimes strange poem of Shakespeare’s. Its main subject, the story of Venus and Adonis, received its most memorable treatment in antiquity in Ovid’s Metamorphoses (which was probably Shakespeare’s favorite classical work) where it’s filtered through the tragic story of the poet Orpheus. The story itself is connected to a kind of bittersweet love that ends in tragedy, and Shakespeare would treat this memorably in his play Romeo and Juliet, and, to some extent, in Antony and Cleopatra. But Venus and Adonis would seem understandably a lesser work to us readers who have been weaned on the comedies, tragedies, and romances that the Bard would prove himself capable of. Its rhetorical habit does have a kind of artificiality that is not our foremost cup of tea, and its long sections (which can be called longueurs but which aren't quite tedious) have a certain ongoingness that Shakespeare would to some extent tame as he and his work matured. Its poetry and subject do not quite have the eroticism for us that they might have had for Shakespeare’s earliest readers, though it is plenty erotic in its own way. But I cannot feel that, in addition to being a predecessor for the later and greater work, it is a sweet poem with much greatness and merit in it, and its poetry has its power. Even as the sun with purple-colored face Had ta’en his last leave of the weeping morn, Rose-cheeked Adonis hied him to the chase. Hunting he loved, but love he laughed to scorn. Sick-thoughtèd Venus makes amain unto him And, like a bold-faced suitor, gins to woo him. Immediately we have the scene of a sun-set just going on to night, we have the beautiful Adonis getting ready for love, we know what he loves and what he thinks about love, and we have Venus taking the role of a suitor. For the trained reader, a “suitor” would be most likely a male, so already there is an ambiguity about gendered roles present. “Rose-cheeked” could apply to a female or a male youth; not as surprising as calling Venus a “suitor,” but still contributing to an ambiguous thematic music. The rhyme scheme of ababcc, later called the Venus and Adonis stanza, has a smooth flow; artificial it may be at times, but nevertheless we see here a poetic mastery. Of course, Shakespeare will get a greater control of this “stanzaic” poetry in Lucrece, but here it is already solid work. Part of the uniqueness of Shakespeare is the way he treats his Venus; his Venus is a goddess, and thus above the material world, and somewhat weightless; and yet she has a certain strength, she is larger and stronger than Adonis, and that strength which can sometimes unnerve the reader: With this she seizeth on his sweating palm, The precedent of pith and livelihood, And, trembling in her passion, calls it balm, Earth’s sovereign salve to do a goddess good. Being so enraged, desire doth lend her force Courageously to pluck him from his horse. Over one arm the lusty courser’s rein, Under her other was the tender boy, Who blushed and pouted in a dull disdain, With leaden appetite, unapt to toy— She red and hot as coals of glowing fire, He red for shame but frosty in desire. In the beginning, Venus “seizes” and is “enraged” and has “force” that “courageously” can “pluck him from his horse.” Later: Look how a bird lies tangled in a net, So fastened in her arms Adonis lies. Though it is somewhat “normal” for a goddess to have this power over a mortal human, just as it is expected by Ovidian standards for a male god to have this kind of power over a vulnerable female, here it is somewhat concerting, a little surprising, to see a female goddess, probably naked, carrying a youth under her arm, and her body language and her face showing amorous passion that is ardent and almost fiery. No wonder Adonis is pouting. Already somewhat uneager for love, he does not quite know what to do. Which is why, for a time, Venus dominates the drama of the poem. And dominate she does. The insistent, very likely male, voice of the Sonneteer, encouraging the beloved to either accept his wooing or to reproduce his or her beauty, is given to the female. And that voice, which in a sonnet would be at once appealing and somewhat pathetic, is given the force of strangeness. Such a feeling of strangeness is not quite present in Marlowe’s Hero and Leander, where there is something more pure in that poem’s ardent desire and lavish splendor. Here, where the dramatic intrudes into the lyric, there is some feeling that there is not quite a successful mix. That the voice gives Venus some agency is, to me, obvious. The first extended speech of Venus, lines 95-174, is a testament to the power of her love and her eros; first, she brings up the great affair between herself and Mars (told in Homer and Ovid), and she brings in the theme of not wasting one’s beauty: “Upon the earth’s increase why shouldst thou feed, Unless the earth with thy increase be fed? By law of nature thou art bound to breed, That thine may live when thou thyself art dead; And so in spite of death thou dost survive, In that thy likeness still is left alive.” Adonis now can only say: “The sun does burn my face; I must remove.” And Venus goes on yet another extended speech (187-216). This goes on for some time. Then Shakespeare gives us a memorable, almost Malickian (if Malickian means a meditative and slow appreciation of nature’s beauty through artistic beauty), picture and digression of a horse pursuing a female horse. What this does, of course, is by its placement link the goddess with the natural force of sexual desire and passion that exists among the animals; a certain innocence and lustiness is in the animal and the divine. It is not “necessary” to the “plot” of the poem, and yet it captured me by its beauty. Though Shakespeare would gain a greater economy and power as he continued to write, I cannot help but appreciate some of the extravagance that the early Shakespeare could show, whether in some of the long rhetorical passages of 3 Henry VI, or the rhetorical artificiality of a Titus Andronicus, or the livelier tragic diction of Richard III that has one foot in the old traditions and another foot in a newer tradition, or in the various long sections of Venus and Adonis and Lucrece. I cannot further make any extended remarks on Venus and Adonis except that it shows that Shakespearean complexity, not always successful, of dramatizing two or more competing claims, neither explicitly favoring one or the other but giving a steady or a shifting dramatic sympathy to one or the other. Venus’ seductions have a certain aggressiveness that could be seen as a gentler Tarquinese, but they have a certain sympathetic seductiveness, and her grief at the loss of Adonis is touching, as is her reflection on the “perverseness” of human desire from that moment. Adonis’ pouting may be “annoying” in its own right, and it does show a contrast to the more willing Adonis of Ovid’s poem. And yet Shakespeare depicts him with a fair amount of sympathy. Perhaps he should have accepted the love of Venus. And yet he had his right to reject her. And yet she is a goddess and he a mortal. And yet does not Venus’ forward approach also reflect somewhat comically on the male lover’s approach? All these dilemmas and concerns are raised in the mind of the attentive reader when reading this poem. That the poem has a certain beauty makes this “drama” so much more engaging. And there is a certain touching sadness and quietness to the ending of the poem, when she leaves to hide herself and mourn: Thus, weary of the world, away she hies And yokes her silver doves, by whose swift aid Their mistress mounted through the empty skies In her light chariot quickly is conveyed, Holding their course to Paphos, where their queen Means to immure herself and not be seen. An ending like this, quiet and sad, provides a solemn and bittersweet relief not only to the reader of so much sweetened poetry but also to the reader who has been engaged in this complex and witty and erotic and sometimes exhausting drama of love as it was portrayed.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Moonglum

    The tension between Venus's desire and Adonis's asexual disinterest is humorous. Especially amusing are Venus's various tactics to maneuver Adonis into love making. In this era, the poem still works because Venus is a woman, and the contrast in sexual roles between our era, and what is depicted in the poem, adds a political dimension to work that I doubt existed in the late 16th century. There are also a number of excellent lines of verse. I especially liked, 'Grim-grinning ghosts' (which ends u The tension between Venus's desire and Adonis's asexual disinterest is humorous. Especially amusing are Venus's various tactics to maneuver Adonis into love making. In this era, the poem still works because Venus is a woman, and the contrast in sexual roles between our era, and what is depicted in the poem, adds a political dimension to work that I doubt existed in the late 16th century. There are also a number of excellent lines of verse. I especially liked, 'Grim-grinning ghosts' (which ends up as the title of the theme song to Disney's Haunted Mansion 400 years later).

  28. 4 out of 5

    Steve Hemmeke

    Shakespeare's 1200 line poem, 6 lines per stanza, seems meant to explain why love is so bittersweet. Venus seduces Adonis but after almost giving in, he resists and wants to go hunting. She is afraid he will be killed by a boar, and he is. In her grief, Venus prophesies, "Sorrow on love hereafter shall attend; It shall be waited on with jealousy, Find sweet beginning but unsavoury end... all love's pleasure shall not match his woe" (lines 1135-40). The first half contains Shakespeare's strongest s Shakespeare's 1200 line poem, 6 lines per stanza, seems meant to explain why love is so bittersweet. Venus seduces Adonis but after almost giving in, he resists and wants to go hunting. She is afraid he will be killed by a boar, and he is. In her grief, Venus prophesies, "Sorrow on love hereafter shall attend; It shall be waited on with jealousy, Find sweet beginning but unsavoury end... all love's pleasure shall not match his woe" (lines 1135-40). The first half contains Shakespeare's strongest sexual language. It isn't pornographic, but the innuendo is clear (see below, or not, for an example). It is fascinating that Venus the goddess of love is repulsed in love, after this description of beauty and her enticing words and arguments to Adonis to give in. "She's Love, she loves, and yet she is not lov'd" (610). Shakespeare seems to be showing us the limits and unmanageable nature of romance and lust. "Now is she in the very lists of love, Her champion mounted for the hot encounter: All is imaginary she doth prove, He will not manage her, although he mount her; That worse than Tantalus' is her annoy, To clip Elysium, and to lack her joy." (594-600) It isn't all this crass, and much of it is edifying. I'll end with a good example, as Adonis speaks to and rejects Venus. "I hate not love, but your device in love... Call it not love,... since sweating lust on earth usurp'd his name;.... Love comforteth like sunshine after rain, But lust's effect is tempest after sun; Love's gentle spring doth always fresh remain, Lust's winter comes ere summer half be done. Love surfeits not; lust like a glutton dies: Love is all truth; lust full of forged lies." (789-804) Consistent with Shakespeare in his plays, he depicts the thing he later rejects. In this case, lust.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Jackson

    Venus and Adonis could be split into two clean halves with vastly different tones and the poem would improve for it. This was my second time reading the poem, and I still found my eyes glazing over with disinterest. It's most certainly a testament to Shakespeare's wordplay abilities, but it went on far too long to keep my interest — and the subject matter was not particularly interesting, either, despite its potential. The poem is that of Venus, the goddess who desires love, and Adonis, her youth Venus and Adonis could be split into two clean halves with vastly different tones and the poem would improve for it. This was my second time reading the poem, and I still found my eyes glazing over with disinterest. It's most certainly a testament to Shakespeare's wordplay abilities, but it went on far too long to keep my interest — and the subject matter was not particularly interesting, either, despite its potential. The poem is that of Venus, the goddess who desires love, and Adonis, her youthful target. Adonis rebukes her love, despite Venus' best efforts, because all he wants to do is go hunting. Venus, however, is scared for him; she knows if he faces the boar, he'll be attacked and die. And sure enough, when she discovers him dead later, gored at the hands (feet?) of the boar, she partly blames herself for making the prophecy and then curses all loves to be as sorrowful as hers. It's a good concept, but the first half seemed so rapey — Venus trying to seduce Adonis with all she had — that the second half, the death, was almost a relief. It would be easier to split the poem up and make the first half about the intense, graphic love Venus felt, and then turn the second half into an actual narrative.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    Maybe it's just the ancient studies of that far-off teenage years that was calling out to me, but I had this insane urge to reread this classic poem of lust. It contrasts nicely with the recent romance novels that I've had the dubious enjoyment of reading. It's particularly nice to see a strong-headed woman who feels no issue with chasing after a man who would rather spear a boar than her. I wonder if Adonis was actually Scottish? Maybe West-Virginian? Alas, alak, would he rather swive a swine t Maybe it's just the ancient studies of that far-off teenage years that was calling out to me, but I had this insane urge to reread this classic poem of lust. It contrasts nicely with the recent romance novels that I've had the dubious enjoyment of reading. It's particularly nice to see a strong-headed woman who feels no issue with chasing after a man who would rather spear a boar than her. I wonder if Adonis was actually Scottish? Maybe West-Virginian? Alas, alak, would he rather swive a swine than appeal to Aphrodite? Wait. Am I talking about romance novels or Shakespeare? Damn... nothing is ever clear-cut.

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