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.
Ah, I like this one. The speaker manages to make fun of traditional comparisons by stating that no, in fact, his beloved’s eyes are not like the sun, her skin is as white as snow, her hair is black, her lips are not as red as coral. He even states her feet are planted firmly on the ground, she’s not a goddess, she’s a woman. He sees her realistically, but loves her nonetheless. He shows she’s special, without needing to idealize her.
Of course, presuming this is the same woman as in the other sonnets in this section, she eventually betrays him, but I haven’t read that many, so I’m going to ignore that bit.
I read this in Shakespeare’s Sonnets.
Category: Classics- Poetry
First published in 1609
Book source: Free for Kindle
Shakespeare Reading Month is hosted by Allie at A Literary Odyssey.