Sonnet 130 by William Shakespeare An unconventional love poem about the Dark Lady
http://marrasouk.com A sonnet has 14 lines The first 12 lines are 3 quatrains Groups of 4 lines My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun; Coral is far more red than her lips' red; If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun; If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head. rhyme scheme ABAB With a closing couplet And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare As any she belied with false compare. Sums things up!
http://marrasouk.com In a conventional love poem the writer would exaggerate how beautiful his mistress is: My mistress' eyes are more fantastic than the sun; But in his unconventional love poem Shakespeare underplays how beautiful his mistress is: My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun; He has turned around the convention of exaggerated praise
http://marrasouk.com He carries on with the unconventional approach in the next lines Coral is far more red than her lips' red Pink-orange colour Conventional desirable feature Her lips aren't red If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun Grey brown colour The conventional Something of a cliche Is he saying she is not beautiful or is he saying she is beautiful in a different way?
http://marrasouk.com In the next lines he moves on to describe other physical features If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head. Gold wires were used in head-dress and compared to golden hair Blondes were more highly rated So she is not conventionally beautiful I have seen roses damask'd, red and white mixed But she doesnt have this complexion But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
http://marrasouk.com The author moves from how she looks to how she smells And in some perfumes is there more delight Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks. Smells- the word didnt have a negative meaning in Shakespeares time Hes not saying the smell of her breath is unpleasant - just that perfume smells sweeter In conventional love poems you would say her breath was sweeter than perfume But Shakespeare takes an unconventional approach
http://marrasouk.com The next feature is the sound of her voice I love to hear her speak, yet well I know That music hath a far more pleasing sound; Hes not being critical of her voice: all hes saying is that music has a more pleasing sound In the conventional love poem the writer would say that her voice was sweeter than music
http://marrasouk.com The poet describes how his mistress walks I grant I never saw a goddess go; My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground: I admit to you Ive never seen a goddess walk My mistress walks like anyone else, on the ground, rather than floating through the air Hes stressing his mistress is no goddess. In a conventional love poem she would be described as a goddess
http://marrasouk.com So does the poet think that his mistress is beautiful or what? The last 2 lines tell us And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare As any she belied with false compare. exceptional Direct statement, telling us what he thinks For emphasis She is as beautiful as any woman who is praised with false comparisons The poet thinks shes beautiful but doesnt want to describe her in a cliched way.