My mistress’ eyes space nothing prefer thesun; Coral is far an ext red 보다 her lips’ red; If snow be white, why then she breasts are dun; If hair be wires, black wires flourish on her head. I have actually seen roses damask’d, red and white, yet no such roses view I in she cheeks; and also in part perfumes is there more delight than in the breath that from mine mistress reeks. I love to hear she speak, yet well I recognize That music hath a far more pleasing sound; I grant I never saw a goddess go; mine mistress, once she walks, treads top top the ground: and also yet, by heaven, i think mylove as rare As any kind of she belied v false compare.

Summary: Sonnet 130

This sonnet compare the speaker’s lover to a number ofother beauties—and never in the lover’s favor. Her eyes are “nothinglike the sun,” her lips are less red 보다 coral; contrasted to whitesnow, her breasts room dun-colored, and her hairs are like blackwires on she head. In the second quatrain, the speaker claims he hasseen roses separated by shade (“damasked”) right into red and also white, buthe look at no together roses in his mistress’s cheeks; and he says thebreath that “reeks” native his mistress is much less delightful 보다 perfume.In the third quatrain, the admits that, despite he loves her voice,music “hath a far more pleasing sound,” and also that, despite he hasnever seen a goddess, his mistress—unlike goddesses—walks top top theground. In the couplet, however, the speak declares that, “byheav’n,” he think his love together rare and valuable “As any type of she beliedwith false compare”—that is, any type of love in i m sorry false comparisonswere invoked to explain the loved one’s beauty.

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Commentary

This sonnet, one of Shakespeare’s many famous, plays anelaborate hoax on the conventions of love poetry usual to Shakespeare’sday, and it is so well-conceived that the joke stays funny today.Most sonnet order in Elizabethan England to be modeled afterthat the Petrarch. Petrarch’s renowned sonnet sequence was writtenas a series of love poems to an idealized and idolized mistressnamed Laura. In the sonnets, Petrarch praises her beauty, she worth,and her perfection making use of an extraordinary variety of metaphors based largelyon organic beauties. In Shakespeare’s day, these metaphors had alreadybecome cliche (as, indeed, they still are today), yet they werestill the accepted an approach for composing love poetry. The resultwas the poems often tended to make extremely idealizing comparisons betweennature and the poets’ lover the were, if take away literally, completelyridiculous. Mine mistress’ eyes are favor the sun; her lips space redas coral; she cheeks are favor roses, she breasts space white as snow,her voice is like music, she is a goddess.

In plenty of ways, Shakespeare’ssonnets subvert and also reverse the conventions that the Petrarchan lovesequence: the idealizing love poems, because that instance, space written notto a perfect woman but to an admittedly imperfect man, and also the love poemsto the dark lady room anything yet idealizing (“My love is as a fever,longing tho / For that which much longer nurseth the disease” is hardlya Petrarchan conceit.) Sonnet 130 mocksthe common Petrarchan metaphors by presenting a speaker that seemsto take it them at challenge value, and somewhat bemusedly, decides come tellthe truth. Her mistress’ eyes are like the sun? That’s strange—mymistress’ eyes aren’t in ~ all like the sun. Her mistress’ breathsmells prefer perfume? mine mistress’ breath reeks compared to perfume.In the couplet, then, the speaker reflects his complete intent, i beg your pardon isto firmly insist that love walk not need these conceits in order come bereal; and women carry out not have to look favor flowers or the sunlight in orderto be beautiful.

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The rhetorical structure of Sonnet 130 isimportant come its effect. In the very first quatrain, the speak spends oneline on each comparison between his mistress and also something else(the sun, coral, snow, and wires—the one optimistic thing in the wholepoem some component of his mistress is like. In thesecond and 3rd quatrains, he expands the explanation to occupytwo lines each, so the roses/cheeks, perfume/breath, music/voice,and goddess/mistress each receive a pair the unrhymed lines. Thiscreates the impact of one expanding and developing argument, andneatly avoids the poem—which does, ~ all, depend on a singlekind of hoax for its first twelve lines—from becoming stagnant.


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