Shakespeare's 'summer's day' voted greatest poem ever written

Shakespeare’s ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day’ is voted greatest poem ever written

  • The best known of the Bard’s 154 sonnets, it came top in a poll with 18% of vote
  • The nationwide survey, commissioned to mark National Poetry Day on October 7 
  • Study found one in 10 adults claim they can confidently recite famous poems 

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 – better known as ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day’ has been voted the greatest poem ever written.

The best known of the Bard’s 154 sonnets, it came top in a poll with 18 per cent of the vote.

The nationwide survey, commissioned to mark National Poetry Day on October 7, found the nation’s second best-loved poem was Daffodils by William Wordsworth, also commonly referred to as ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’, which won 10 per cent of the vote.

The best known of the Bard’s 154 sonnets, it came top in a poll with 18 per cent of the vote

The poem was inspired by a walk Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy completed on April 15, 1802, when they came across a ‘long belt’ of daffodils in a Lake District forest.

The Raven, a narrative poem written by American writer Edgar Allen Poe in 1845, came in joint third place with 9 per cent of the vote.

It shared the spot with If by Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling, which he wrote around 1895.

The poll, by Perspectus Global, found that Lewis Carrol’s nonsense poem Jabberwocky – which was included in his 1871 novel Through the Looking-Glass, the sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – came fifth with 8 per cent.

How Do I Love Thee, written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning in 1890, Lord Byron’s 1814 short poem She Walks in Beauty, and Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats written in 1819 also made the top ten.

More modern poems also featured in the top 25, including Warsan Shire’s For Women Who Are Difficult to Love (2015), Cat D by George the Poet (2015), The Point by Kae Tempest (2014) and Cocoon by Holly Poetry (2015).

According to the poll of 2,000 adults, 18 per cent of us love the sound of poetry being read aloud and eight per cent often put pen to paper and write our own verse.

The study also found that one in 10 adults claim they can confidently recite famous poems

A spokesman for Perspectus Global said: ‘Poetry can evoke strong emotions and this reveals the poems that are most loved – many which have endured for centuries.

‘Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 is a worthy winner, touching on the themes of unattainable love and mortality, and capturing the imagination of generation upon generation of readers.’

The study also found that one in 10 adults claim they can confidently recite famous poems and a romantic eight percent have written poetry for a lover. 

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