A Lover’s Complaint is the most neglected of the Poems of William Shakespeare, assuming that it is his. It was first published in 1609, by Thomas Thorpe, under the same cover as the Sonnets; but has seldom been reprinted. The Lover’s Complaint seems to be a very early poem (perhaps 1591), but no date of composition of the poem can be assigned.
April 18, 1593 Registration of Venus and Adonis Poem Venus and Adonis, Shakespeare’s narrative poem in six-line stanzas, was published by Richard Field (1561 – 1624). The poem was dedicated to Shakespeare’s patron, Henry Wriothesley, Third Earl of Southampton (1573-1624). This dedication refers to the author’s “unpolisht lines” and contains the typically fawning language of a commoner addressing a nobleman in the hope of obtaining, or retaining, their patronage in exchange for poems dedicated to the recipient.
May 9, 1594 Registration of The Rape of Lucrece On May 9, 1594, the poem was entered in the Hall Book of the Worshipful Company of Stationers, the English government’s pre-publication registry. The poem was listed in the Hall Book under the title of The Ravyshement [Ravishment] of Lucrece but was published with the title Lucrece. The Rape of Lucrece was substituted as a title at a later date. The Rape of Lucrece is a narrative poem resembling a revenge tragedy with 1,855 lines.
In 1601 a very fine poem subsequently titled The Phoenix and the Turtle appeared untitled as one of the Poetical Essays appended to Robert Chester’s Love’s Martyr: or Rosalind’s Complaint. It was attributed to William, and many scholars have accepted the poem as genuine. The date of composition of the poem is unknown, but this poem must be a more mature work.