Sonnet 130 (Poem Summary)

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Sonnet 130

William Shakespeare is known for writing love poetry. Many individuals are familiar with “Sonnet 18,” which begins "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day." In this poetic work, he describes his lover in glowing terms. However, in “Sonnet 130,” Shakespeare illustrates a more realistic view of love. Although this poem may not seem as romantic as his other works, it illustrates how love blossoms even if the significant other is not physically attractive. The first three lines of the poem do not paint an attractive picture of the woman in question. They read, "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." She is a plain woman with eyes that don’t glisten, and her lips are not seductive and her breasts are dull. Initially, it sounds as if she is being insulted instead of praised

Shakespeare continues to paint an unattractive picture of this mistress. He says, "If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head. If I have seen roses damasked, red and white, but no such roses see I in her cheeks" (lines 4-6). Again, she is not perceived as beautiful. Her hair is coarse and wiry and her cheeks have no color and luster. The reader may question how he can love someone with no physically appealing qualities. However, her unattractiveness goes beyond her physical appearance. In lines seven through ten, he relates other objectionable things about his love. He says, “As in some perfumes is there more delight tan 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." The woman in question is plagued with bad breath and an unpleasant voice. However, when he talks about liking the sound of her voice, a shift occurs in the sonnet. At the end of the poem, he justifies all of the negative things said about this mistress. He says of her, "I grant I never saw a goddess go; my mistress, when she walks, treads...
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