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July 9, 2011 / blogaboutpoetry

Sonnet 130 by William Shakespeare

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.

Shakespeare wrote many sonnets, but this stands out for me as a truly great love poem. Obviously a parody of the conventional love poem in which the subject is exaggerated into a goddess, I see this also as a touching message to a lover. It definitely gets into the dissatisfaction I think we all feel when reading greeting card style love poems. My favourite line is probably “My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground”.

Whilst I doubt many will recite this to a lover (“the breath which my mistress reeks”) it’s a poem that I think has universal appeal.

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One Comment

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  1. Brooklyn / Jul 11 2011 4:32 am

    I Love this poem!

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