Unique Number : 221494
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.
I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
1. Work out the rhyme scheme of this poem using letters, such as “a”, to represent the sounds at the end of each line.
2. What is the tone of the poem? Quote extensively from the poem to support your answer.
3. In this poem, the poet seems to be mocking or making fun of the Mistress`s looks. Do you agree? Give reasons for your answer by quoting from the poem.
4. In a classic Petrarchan sonnet, the poet idealises and romanticises the woman that he addresses. What is different and unusual about this poem? Give examples from the text to substantiate your answer. This poem mocks Petrarchan metaphors by presenting a speaker who tends to take them at face value and amusingly tells the truth. E.g. My mistress`s eyes are nothing like the sun. The speaker insists that love doesn’t need these conceits in order to be real, nor do woman need to look like flowers and have breathe that smells like perfume to be beautiful.
5. Comment on the poet’s use of simile, metaphor, and personification throughout the poem.
6. Are the criteria for woman`s beauty, which are promoted in this poem, similar to those you are familiar with in your society? Give examples (from your society) and comparisons (from the poem).
7. Comment on the surprise reversal in the rhyming couplet: “and yet, by heaven, I think my love as fair / As any she belied with false compare” (lines 13-14). How does the speaker change the tone and content of the poem in these lines? The poet changes the tone and content by saying even though my mistress may not be as beautiful as a rose, smell like perfume or have eyes like the sunn, she is a rare and natural mortal human being.
"My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun; / Coral is far more red than her lips' red;" My mistress's eyes look nothing like the sun; coral is far more red than her lips are. "If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun; / If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head." If snow is white, then her breasts are a dull brown (in comparison); if hairs are wires, then black wires grow on her head. "I have seen roses damask'd, red and white / But no such roses see I in her cheeks;" I have seen roses of pink, red, and white, but her cheeks are none of these colors; "And in some perfumes is there more delight / Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks." And some perfumes smell more delightful than the malodorous breath of my mistress. "I love to hear her speak, yet well I know / That music hath a far more pleasing sound;" I love to hear her speak, even though I know well that music has a far more pleasing sound; "I grant I never saw a goddess go; / My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:" I admit I have never seen a goddess walk, but my mistress, when she walks, steps (humanly) on the ground: "And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare / As any she belied with false compare." And yet, I swear before heaven, I think she is just as extraordinary as any woman that may be described with false comparisons. Why is he saying it?
Sonnet 130 is a pleasure to read for its simplicity and frankness of expression. It is also one of the few of Shakespeare's sonnets with a distinctly humorous tone. Its message is simple: the dark lady's beauty cannot be compared to the beauty of a goddess...