Sonnet 130: My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun
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.
We will go through each line together. First of all, the word “mistress” in the poem refers to as “my beloved or darling.”
1 line opposes the stereotypical idea that a woman’s eyes shines like the sun etc. He says that this woman’s eyes don’t resemble the sun at all.
2 line talks about “coral” which is a reddish shade of orange. It’s a rare example of aquatic environment, named after the sea animal. Stereotypically, women are portrayed beautiful having pink or red lips as we see it in the movies or magazines. In this poem, Shakespeare says that the woman’s lips aren’t anywhere near red compare to the coral.
3 line states, if the color of snow actually defines the color white, then the woman’s breasts are dun. The word “dun” refers to a dull grayish-brown color which he claims that her breasts are dark colored.
4 line compares the woman’s hair to black wires that is literally sticking out of her head. Again stereotypically, one would compare a woman’s hair texture to something soft like the flower etc. But in this poem, her hair is wiry, black and frizzy.
Line 5 and 6 uses the word “damasked” which means a mix of colors woven with patterns. He claims to have seen the beautiful roses mixed with red and white, but none of these roses reminds him of his mistress’s cheeks.
Line 7 and 8 states that even perfumes smell better than this woman’s breath.
Line 9 and 10 states that the sound of music is rather pleasing than the sound of her voice when she speaks.
Line 11 and 12 accepts the fact that he never saw a goddess move, but his mistress “treads” (the sound of someone walking) on the ground. Here, he is being honest and saying that she just walks like any other normal person on earth.
Line 13 and 14 really discloses his love for this woman. He believes that his lover is still rare and he wouldn’t fantasize her with false or useless comparisons. These last two lines speak for the whole poem and it shows that the author doesn’t need lavishing words to impress the woman he loves. Therefore, the poem was a mockery of the typical love poems that puts a lover on a pedestal.