William Shakespeare

(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616 / Warwickshire)

Sonnet Xx - Poem by William Shakespeare

A woman's face with Nature's own hand painted
Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion;
A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted
With shifting change, as is false women's fashion;
An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;
A man in hue, all 'hues' in his controlling,
Much steals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth.
And for a woman wert thou first created;
Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting,
And by addition me of thee defeated,
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
But since she prick'd thee out for women's pleasure,
Mine be thy love and thy love's use their treasure.


Comments about Sonnet Xx by William Shakespeare

  • Fabrizio Frosini Fabrizio Frosini (1/5/2016 11:16:00 AM)

    master-mistress: likely male-mistress
    This line is hotly debated as some see this sonnet as an admission of Shakespeare's homosexuality (Report) Reply

    8 person liked.
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  • Fabrizio Frosini Fabrizio Frosini (1/5/2016 11:14:00 AM)

    Sonnet 20 has caused much debate. Some scholars believe that this is a clear admission of Shakespeare's homosexuality. Despite the fact that male friendships in the Renaissance were openly affectionate, the powerful emotions the poet displays here are indicative of a deep and sensual love. The poet's lover is 'the master-mistress of [his] passion.' He has the grace and features of a woman but is devoid of the guile and pretense that comes with female lovers; those wily women with eyes 'false in rolling', who change their moods and affections like chameleons. (Report) Reply

  • Fabrizio Frosini Fabrizio Frosini (1/5/2016 11:13:00 AM)

    Lines 9-14 are of particular interest to critics on both sides of the homosexual debate. Some argue these lines show that, despite his love for the young man, the poet does not want to 'have' him physically. The poet proclaims that he is content to let women enjoy the 'manly gifts' that God has given his friend. He is satisfied to love the young man in a spiritual way. But others contend that Shakespeare had to include this disclaimer, due to the homophobia of the time. The meaning is conveyed not just by what is said but by the tone. The argument may serve to clear Shakespeare of the charge of a serious offense... (Spender,99) .
    [Shakespeare, William. Sonnet 20. Ed. Amanda Mabillard. Shakespeare Online.8 Dec.2008] (Report) Reply

  • Brian Jani Brian Jani (4/26/2014 3:35:00 PM)

    Awesome I like this poem, check mine out  (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: women, woman, nature, passion, change, heart, love, sonnet



Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002



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