Sonnet 130: My Mistress' Eyes Are Nothing Like The Sun

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 damasked, 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.

by William Shakespeare

Comments (12)

once again i'm reminded why will has the reputation he does. four centuries later he still remains the master of the sonnet in english. and here he deftly combines criticism of sappy, hackneyed verse with a lovely affirmation of his beloved. will is the bard, the master. -glen kappy
in ITALIAN: Gli occhi della mia donna non sono come il sole; il corallo è assai più rosso del rosso delle sue labbra; se la neve è bianca, allora i suoi seni sono grigi; se i capelli sono crini, neri crini crescono sul suo capo. Ho visto rose variegate, rosse e bianche, ma tali rose non le vedo sulle sue guance; e in certi profumi c'e' maggiore delizia che nel fiato che la mia donna esala. Amo sentirla parlare, eppure so che la musica ha un suono molto più gradito. Ammetto di non aver mai visto camminare una dea, ma la mia donna camminando calca la terra. Eppure, per il cielo. ritengo che la mia amata si straordinaria come ogni altra donna falsamente cantata con immagini esagerate.
With a deftness of touch that takes away any sting that might otherwise arise from implied criticism of other sonneteers, the poet satirises the tradition of comparing one's beloved to all things beautiful under the sun, and to things divine and immortal as well. It is often said that the praise of his mistress is so negative that the reader is left with the impression that she is almost unlovable. On the contrary, although the octet makes many negative comparisons, the sestet contrives to make one believe that the sound of her voice is sweeter than any music, and that she far outdistances any goddess in her merely human beauties and her mortal approachability.
Sonnet 130-A My love, caress me only with thine eyes, And not with hands, so bare, where corn now grows, Or call to me as of brisk wind that blows, With thy damp breath which always brings the flies; Now, pour some Cognac, filled to flowing be, Or else, just kiss the brim of my wine cup Before you toast, and fully drink it up, Oft thou consumes the contents before me, Then call me from afar with shrill catcalls, To complement thy sharp and pointed claws, Which might highlight thine other childish flaws, That could explain, to some degree, thy falls; ........But mark to Heaven mine love's industry, ........That makes up for her lacking artistry.
What a delightful parody of Elizabethan romances this is! A favorite among Shakespeare's sonnets simply because it is so different, so humorous, so unselfconscious. And, by the way, just for the record, this is NOT my beloved, who is absolutely the opposite of the 'mistress' of this jest.
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