William Shakespeare

(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616 / Warwickshire)

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My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun (Sonnet 130)


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.

Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003

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  • Soumita Sarkar (7/3/2014 1:54:00 AM)

    Nailed.................no comparison yet the superlative established......Undoubtedly no one but Shakespeare.... could do it! (Report) Reply

  • Besa Dede (7/3/2012 9:18:00 AM)

    Rare are those poets who write straight from their heart and tell a story in real terms. Shakespeare henceforth does this, he gives the reader a description of his mistress as she really is. He could have depicted her with shiny eyes, and soft curly hair, with a sweet melodious voice, and with a walk more soft than the Heaven's clouds. Yet, he decides to present her as she really is, a crude earthling, for whom he shares his love and adoration.
    And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
    As any she belied with false compare.
    Could there be a more beautiful love-dedication poem? He really is one of the greatest masters of poetry! !
    ~Besa (Report) Reply

  • Terence George Craddock (7/3/2010 10:28:00 PM)

    This sonnet by William Shakespeare is not an attack on his beloved mistress, nor is it a recommendation to abstain from taking a mistress. Indeed in the concluding couplet, Shakespeare declares both his exceptional love for his mistress and his purpose with the lines ‘And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare /As any she belied with false compare.’
    Shakespeare is rejecting the normal Petrarchan conceit employed in love poems, which had become hacked-neyed by some imitator Elizabethan sonneteers. The Italian poet Petrarch used the “conceit” as a striking, usually elaborate parallel between two dissimilar things or situations.
    Shakespeare in Sonnet 130 seems to mourn the fall of ingenious, detailed, often exaggerated figures of speech, into predictable poetaster verse forms. Shakespeare has wonderfully parodied standard comparisons. His mistress does not have eyes like the sun, coral lips, white skin, golden hair, rose cheeks or a nice breath as convention dictates.
    Shakespeare is writing an accurate realistic comparative description of his mistress. Her breath stinks, it reeks; her voice grates yet he still loves to listen to her voice. She does not walk on air but on the ground, because she is a real woman, not a goddess. Rejecting all false comparisons, Shakespeare pays his mistress, the ultimate compliment, his love for her is greater and rarer than, the love for a goddess like idealized beauty. This is true love which overcomes the decay of age and the test of time. Therefore a sonnet earthed in reality attaining immense significance. (Report) Reply

  • quercus : I've never got paid for my hits... (7/3/2010 9:55:00 AM)

    Good write with a moral - it's better to be on your own rather than becoming somebody's mistress... just for the sake of your good looks...
    Had I lived that time, I would have said: 'widzialy galy co braly', Mr Shakespeare... (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (7/3/2010 1:50:00 AM)

    Even in the attack about his lady in words Shakespeare is frank, free and fearless! He is simple and majestic in his sonnet once again proving his mark of a genius very well! (Report) Reply

  • Herman Chiu (10/27/2009 7:20:00 PM)

    The arguments in this poem are so well constructed; he never actually sets an absolute problem on his love. Instead, there are a series of smaller problems with this woman - normal problems. In the last lines, he points out that she is, however, special to him. In this respect, I agree totally with Katie, who describes this perfectly - all the little problems he points out make her perfect. (Report) Reply

  • Michael Harmon (7/5/2009 5:31:00 PM)

    I. Argumentum ad Hominem (abusive and circumstantial) : the fallacy of attacking the character or circumstances of an individual who is advancing a statement or an argument instead of trying to disprove the truth of the statement or the soundness of the argument. Often the argument is characterized simply as a personal attack.
    A. The personal attack is also often termed an 'ad personem argument': the statement or argument at issue is dropped from consideration or is ignored, and the locutor's character or circumstances are used to influence opinion.
    B. The fallacy draws its appeal from the technique of 'getting personal.' The assumption is that what the locutor is saying is entirely or partially dictated by his character or special circumstances and so should be disregarded. (Report) Reply

  • Mo. (7/3/2007 10:33:00 AM)

    ''What is poetry?
    William Shakespeare is poetry.'' (Report) Reply

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