What Type Of Poetry Is Shakespeare Known For


William Shakespeare is renowned for his extraordinary use of iambic pentameter, the unrhymed form of five-beat lines that has become the convention of English poetry. However, it will surprise many that Shakespeare is also remembered for experimentations within the field of poetry. He made extraordinary use of uncommon verse combinations alongside traditional verse forms, including his tragedies.

In fact, it is his explorations within tragedy that first introduced Shakespeare’s prolific influence on poetry as a whole. It is no surprise that it led to the esteemed reputation he holds today amongst both modern and past poets. Through his powerful and destructive themes, he achieved beauty in tragedy.

His works were considered the craftsmanship of the old masters. He possessed the ability to ‘pain’ the horror and agony of life’s tragedies to a degree that had not been seen before. It was this skill that prompted some to exclaim him as the greatest playwright and tragedian of all time.

Shakespeare was known to closely observe the simplest of human situations and express them in words we may never have thought possible. Through his vivid characters and exceptional use of moral philosophy and psychological insight, he often blurred the border between tragedy and comedy. His ultimate purpose was to evoke emotions, a technique that emerged in his constructions of ‘tragedy’.

Shakespeare’s tragedies are composed with such intensity that it’s easy to forget the purpose and goal of the play. In his works, he would often include strong and noble characters facing troubled situations, unavoidably leading to the audience being swept away by harsh events, despite the character’s heroic efforts. His plays were often intentionally filled with enthralling scenes that would, on the surface, seem to encourage audience members to connect to the lone hero on a serious, moral level.

Tragedy within Shakespeare’s works would often involve catastrophe, undeveloped scenes and untimely deaths of characters. This can be seen across all his plays and explores the calamitous situations that involve strong characters flaws. His works are also associated with an exploration of the human soul, with his tragedies offering a deep and profound look into the darkest aspects of the human condition.


The tremendous artistic achievements of Shakespeare also expand to his works of romance. Through his subtle use of affection and satire, he crafted stories that are widely read by generations. Many would suggest that his compositions of romantic essays which include seamless combinations of song, dance and love scenes all possess a grandeur that elevates the atmosphere of entertainment.

Shakespeare’s grasp of comic absurdity and the human blunder permeates throughout his works of romance. As his stories progressed, the qualities of characterisation and eloquent emotional expression would become a focal point. It enabled him to brilliantly fuse romance and comedy into a unique and captivating form of entertainment.

An outstanding example of this is often seen in his works of poetry. From starting as a humorous page or ‘fool’ in the story, these characters often ignite powerful transformations which often serve to reproduce the core aspects of his romantic works.

Romances would often depict the internal and external challenges the character endured during their journey towards the attainment of greater knowledge, wisdom and ultimately, the discovery of their true nature. Although many of his stories did not have a happy ending, the struggles and passions of his characters embedded themselves in the mind of the reader, helping to express the wild extremes of love with an impressive and simple style.

Themes of love, loyalty and betrayal were often present, accompanied by an overwhelming prowess for delivery. Although many of his works included humor and comical reference, it is easy to forget the methods of their language. His powerfully moving language was both flavoured and spiced with romantic description, helping to make Shakespeare’s works so enduring.


Shakespeare’s works are known for their satire and wit. His works of satire bring to life the delightful humour of ordinary speech by exposing the flaws of humanity, which he infuses with a deep and pungent irony. His commentaries offer a dual appreciation of irony, humour and wit.

The characters in his works often provided a platform for him to explore and poke fun at the grossness and hypocrisy of humanity. Although Shakespeare’s works were often focused on comical detail, there was an underlying purpose in his delivery. He was no fool when it came to humanity, boasting an impressive understanding of subtlety and an innate ability to express it through characters and plot.

Conflicting characters in his works often captured the efforts of his observations and comments, enabling them to mock the actions and words of his characters for the reader’s pleasure. At the same time, his works also illustrated more substantial themes such as the impotence and meanness of humanity.

In addition to this, his use of real-world literature to enhance his works is also considered outstanding. He often worked with a variety of characters, including clowns and bawds, whose antics provided both amusement and moral instruction. Through the combination of absurd situations and his skillful use of comic dialogue, he was able to vividly capture the everyday life of his people.

Shakespeare displays his eye for detail and his keen ear for authentic dialogue through his unique comedic spaces. These spaces make his works so memorable and delightful that they have continued to be performed centuries after his death.


Links between the beauty of poetry and the emotions behind the spoken word are frequently seen across the works of Shakespeare. He promoted the true beauty of words and would often use them to capture and captivate his audiences. His sonnets were widely perceived as the pinnacle of poetry at the time and are still widely cherished today.

The lyrical qualities of his work were exceptional, authenticating with the audiences through a simple elegance and lyricism. Through simple beauty and tender expression, sonnets helped to lighten idyllic scenes and often highlighted the beauty of love.
His sonnets were all built with carefully constructed rhythms and hand crafted terms of endearment, ensuring that the words of his sonnets were truly felt.
Often using oppositions and comparisons, he was able to effectively compare the physical beauty of the young man to that of the eternal beauty of the night sky. This ability to juxtapose attractions was seen as one of his greatest assets as a poet and has been adopted by many of the greats since then.

Some would argue that Shakespeare has completely revolutionised love poetry, crossing the boundaries between those who spread false sentiment and those who evoke genuine sentiment. His influence reaches far and wide and has been embedded in many works since the 16th century. Although not a master of the genre in its traditional sense, his technical brilliance is what defined him and is often seen as the core of his poetic persona.


Shakespeare was also renowned for his unparalleled skill in weaving humour and language in his plays. His expertly written comedies lie in witty and humorous dialogue, which often included physical aspects such as slapstick and farce. This was seen in particular during his construction of warring characters, like romantic suitors or political rivalries, which constantly provided entertainment and frivolity.

He was also known for being unafraid to use humour to satirize his audience, with his jokes often referring to topics such as politics, gender and the human condition. He was candid about pushing the limits of comedy and often went against the conventions of the time. It is understandable why so many today still consider his works incredibly funny.

Another distinct element of Shakespeare’s comedy was his ability to create characters in impossible and often absurd situations. These jokes often added a layer of humour and irony as they highlighted the weaknesses and inconvenient situations of the characters near the end of the play. His use of role reversals and disguises also paid a large role in his ability to lighten the tone, often creating situations that were simply now believable.

The content of Shakespeare’s work was not always appropriate- many found his humour to be controversial and intense. Nevertheless, it had an unparalleled ability to make the audience chuckle, regardless of its controversy. It is a credit to his genius that he continues to be seen as one of the wittiest writers of all time.


It is no wonder William Shakespeare has earned such admiration from the poetic world. His works are often praised for his stubbornness with meter and precise use of language. It is clear to see why so many consider him a master of poetic verse. Through his skillful use of verse, he often created a lasting impact on his audience.

In many of his works, Shakespeare chose to use the form of blank verse. This enabled him to scribe his stories and plays on an unprecedentedly grand and lyrical level, comparable to no other. His technical feats have yet to be matched by any other writer.

He was an utter master of the language, often bringing a level of stress and syllabication to the spoken word that seemed effortless. His use of verse and rhythm is often seen as a major factor in the captivation of the audiences, with his works bombarding the mind with provocative thoughts and images.

Through such techniques, his words soar and boisterous in a manner that poetical figures have striven and failed to capture. He manages to achieve an intensity and substance that reaches an audience on a level far deeper and more meaningful than language alone. His works represent an unparalleled success and an impressive appreciation for the beauty of verse.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

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