Tuesday, February 5, 2008


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 hair 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.

William Shakespeare 1609

This is my favorite of Shakespeare's sonnets. It is, to me, so much more romantic, more swoon-worthy, than Shall I compare thee to a summer day, which many people would probably identify as the Bard's most romantic sonnet. To be seen by a clear eye, to have one's imperfections acknowledged, and to be found fair, to be loved anyway, that would be something worth having. To be seen with the heart as well as the eye, and to have the heart triumph over the eye in the end, that is what I wish for.


Kathy Kathy Kathy said...

On the other hand, many would call it a left-handed compliment. Myself, twere I the love I would hope to have something to recommend me. Actually, I like the poem in a sort of "Death on Two Legs," heavy metal, bitchy, go ahead, make my day I'll give you something to cry about kind of way. I'm glad I found your blog. It isn't too much to be fed this classical poetry in spoonfuls. Thank you for the education. I'm being Sincere. This is not a passive aggressive note, though the more I make the claim, the less it sounds true.

anglophile said...

Hey Kath. How exciting to be stalked in two spheres! I look at it also as a bit of mocking on Shakespeare's part with overly-flower descriptions common in poetry. Who in real life lives up to poetry written about them? It's a slim list. Thus the title of Reality.

Kathy Kathy Kathy said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D148wZRcYS4 URL for youtube video about the Queen song, "Death on two legs."

amy d said...

What an odd poem. I see your point and I have the same wish, but it's still odd.

lizardrinking said...

It really is sonnet 18 inverted, isn't it? But I think, because of that, they say the same thing, that is: You are my reality and you are far more tangible than ephemeral comparisons to nature (ironically pointed out through nature driven metaphors).

Wasn't "Shall I compare thee" written for one of his boyfriends? ;) Maybe they were prettier to his eye.

I like this one, too, 'glo.