Work presented to Mr. Roy Cartlidge
An explanation of Sonnet CXXX
The poem I chose to analyze is Sonnet CXXX (130) by William Shakespeare. This poem can be seen as either a humorous tribute to his lover or a way to mock other poets of his time. I say humorous because there is no use of over the top metaphors or allusions as he does not compare his love to a goddess nor compare her beauty to rare and beautiful objects found in nature. References to such objects of perfection are indeed present, but they are there to illustrate that his lover is not as beautiful. This is evident in the first quartet as he describes his lover in a rather bizarre fashion for the time. 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.
These are her rather plain physical traits: her eyes are nothing like the sun in the sense that they aren't warm, inviting and to a lesser extent, of a dark color. A comparison is used in the second and third stanzas: her lips are compared to a coral's red but nothing that catches one's attention; her breasts are of a gray-brown tone. This reinforces the fact that she is human and not god-like. Her hair seems to be braided as the last stanza would imply. The next quartet continues in the same fashion.
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.
Shakespeare claims to have seen pink roses, but he doesn't see that color in her cheeks. This is a pun as most poets of his time would seek or glorify this attribute in women. Nevertheless, he doesn't put too much emphasis on this trait just like in the first quartet, where he just makes a rundown of her attributes. As for her breath, he might imply that she has bad...
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