When Henry Constable attempts to describe his “lady”, he paints the reader an image of love, pureness, and of natural beauty. In his sonnet, “[My lady’s presence makes the roses red]”, Constable talks to the various body parts of his “lady”, claiming that they inspire envy into flowers and that his “lady” is in fact the source of the power for the flowers. Using this personification of the flowers, Constable shapes his sonnet as one that is complementing and treasuring his “lady”, however, a deeper examination into the tone of his work shows a much more intriguing side of this sonnet and of Constable’s feelings toward his “lady”.
A line-by-line dissection of this sonnet shows the multitude of personification and imagery used by Henry Constable when describing what appears to be his love. He begins by making an extremely bold statement, saying that roses do not get their color from years of evolutionary science, rather the sight of this woman’s lips cause them to blush in shame (lines 1-2). The personification of a rose blushing at the thought that it will never have as beautiful of red shade as a woman’s lips is the first sign of an irrational over-exaggeration of his feelings. This continues as the lily’s leaves become pale with envy at this woman’s white hands. Once again, Constable is saying that this woman is so beautiful and has such perfect features, that the lily is pale with envy (lines 3-4). The entire first quatrain is riddled with unrealistic personifications of emotions towards flowers. Not comparing this woman to a flower, but saying that the woman is so beautiful and perfect that the flowers change themselves as a cause of witnessing her. This is the start of an almost unrealistic view of his “lady”. He is putting her so high on a pedestal that she is a demigod, changing her surroundings just by her presence.
The second quatrain brings a new view of his “lady”. In this section, Constable really plays out the demigod symbol. In lines 5-6, the...
Cited: Constable, Henry. "[My Lady 's Presence Makes the Roses Red]." The Norton Introduction to Literature. By Alison Booth and Kelly J. Mays. 10th ed. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2010. 1062-063. Print.
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