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Friday, September 21, 2012

To The Dark Lady-Demiurge

To The Dark Lady-Demiurge:

. . .



All you ever wanted to know about…. SONNET 130 

                                  SONNET 130
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;

My mistress's eyes are not at all like the sun;

Coral is far more red than her lips' red;

Coral is much more red than her lips;

If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;

If snow is white, then her breasts are certainly not white as snow;

If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.

If hairs can be compared to wires, hers are black and not golden.

I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,

I have seen roses colored a combination of red and white (thus pink),

But no such roses see I in her cheeks;

But I do not see such colors in her cheeks;

And in some perfumes is there more delight

And some perfumes give more delight

Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

Than the breath of my mistress.

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know

I love to hear her speak, but I know

That music hath a far more pleasing sound;

That music has a more pleasing sound than her voice;

I grant I never saw a goddess go;

I also never saw a goddess walk;

My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:

But I know that my mistress walks only on the ground.

And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
And yet I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

As any woman who has had poetic untruths told about her beauty with false comparisons.

Sonnet 130 is Shakespeare's rather lackluster tribute to his Lady, commonly referred to as the dark lady because she seems to be non-white (black wires for hair, etc). The dark lady, who ultimately betrays the poet by loving other men, appears in sonnets 127 to 154. Sonnet 130 is clearly a parody of the conventional and traditional love sonnet, made popular by Petrarch and, in particular, made popular in England by Sidney's use of the Petrarchan form in his epic poem "Astrophel and Stella". If you compare any of the stanzas of that poem with Shakespeare's sonnet 130, you will see exactly what elements of the conventional love sonnet Shakespeare is light-heartedly mocking. In sonnet 130, there is no use of grandiose metaphor or allusion -- he does not compare his love to Venus; there is no evocation to Morpheus, etc. The ordinary beauty and humanity of his lover are what is important to Shakespeare in this sonnet, and he deliberately uses typical love poetry metaphors against themselves. In Sidney's work, for example, the features of the poet's lover are as beautiful and, at times, more beautiful than the finest pearls, diamonds, rubies, and silk. In sonnet 130, the references to such objects of perfection are indeed present, but they are there to illustrate that his lover is not as beautiful -- a total rejection of Petrarch form and content. Shakespeare utilizes a new structure, through which the straightforward theme of his lover’s simplicity can be developed in the three quatrains and neatly concluded in the final couplet. Thus, Shakespeare is using all the techniques available, including the sonnet structure itself, to enhance his parody of the traditional Petrarchan sonnet typified by Sidney’s work. But Shakespeare ends the sonnet by proclaiming his love for his mistress despite her lack of adornment, so he does finally embrace the fundamental theme in Petrarch's sonnets -- total and consuming love. One final note: Shakespeare's reference to hair as 'wires' confuses modern readers because we assume it to mean our current definition of wire -- a thread of metal -- which is hardly a fitting word in the context of the poem. However, to a Renaissance reader, wire would refer to the finely-spun gold threads woven into fancy hair nets. Many poets of the time used this term as a benchmark of beauty, including Spenser: "Her long loose yellow locks like golden wire" (Epithal).
2) Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130

*Petrarchan - Italian poet, scholar, and humanist who is famous for Canzoniere, a collection of love lyrics

Traditional readings of Shakespeare's "Sonnet130" argue that Shakespeare cunningly employs Petrarchan* imagery while deliberately undermining it. As Stephen Booth says, this "winsom trifle, is easily distorted into a solemn critical statement about sonnetconventions." He argues, Shakespeare "does gently mock the thoughtless mechanical application of the standard Petrarchan metaphors," although he appears to have "no target." Although Booth asserts that Shakespeare is not responding directly to another sonneteer, he must have them (and their ladies' virtues) squarely in mind. Unlike Sidney, whose "Stella's eyes" were Nature's "chief work," that "sun-like should more dazzle than delight," Shakespeare claims that his "Mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun." Whereas Stella's "porches rich (which name of cheeks endure)" are gleaming "marble mixed red and white," Shakespeare's dark mistress has "no such roses" in her cheeks. The negative correspondences between Shakespeare's lady and Sidney's go on and on.

In fourteen lines of "Sonnet130," Shakespeare seems to undo, discount, or invalidate nearly every Petrarchan conceit about feminine beauty employed by his fellow English sonneteers. In the concluding couplet, he relents and admits that "by heav'n, I think my love as rare / as any she belied by false compare" (lines 13-14). That final line, read through the traditional critical lens, works only if we impose very non-Shakespearean syntax on it. If we allow Shakespeare's typical syntax to breath free, however, a much more interesting (and exceptionally more problematic) reading emerges. I propose that we consider such an alternate reading, if for no other reason than to further problematize Shakespeare's dark lady, who, by all accounts, already poses a problem for Shakespeare's poetic voice and for critics. Considerations of alternate readings will not only enrich our understanding of early modern syntax in general (and Shakespeare's in particular) but also demonstrate Shakespeare's facility with poetic subtlety even on the most basic level.

In his critical edition of the Sonnets, Booth glosses "she" as "woman," asserting that the pronoun stands as a substantive, a fully realized nominal that can be modified by the "any," which precedes it. I would like to contest that reading. To analyze the final lines of "Sonnet130" completely, I must break the concluding couplet into its phrasal constituents. Shakespeare clearly intends the couplet to "undo" the potential damage done to his reader's faith that he indeed loves his dusky mistress by the ostensibly denigrating remarks in the previous twelve lines. Therefore, he begins the couplet with a coordinating conjunction, followed immediately by a contrastive adverb that suggests the concluding couplet only appears to contradict the rest of the poem. The first two words of the couplet, "And yet," delay his statement of love, and the oath, "by heav'n." which Booth asserts is a "blunt country cousin to the rhetorical gestures of elegant courtly poets," further delays the declaration to the middle of the line. Not until the second beat of the fourth foot does Shakespeare begin his genuine statement of love: "I think my love as rare / As any she belied with false compare." The grammatical complexity becomes daunting after the first comparative adverb "as."
If we were to rephrase the line according to this parsing, we would have "I think that my love is as rare as any woman (substituting the noun Booth claims "she" replaces) belied by false compare." Although the resulting line is clunky and uneven, it foregrounds the relationship that Helen Vendler asserts in her postulated source sonnet. If Shakespeare is indeed responding to a sonnet,Vendler asserts that the final couplet of this sonnet would read "more or less" in this way: "In all, by heaven I think my love as rare/As any she conceivèd for compare."Vendler's poem presents the same grammatical structure, with the same reading of "any" as an adjective that modifies the pronoun "she" that follows it. These two critical readings from Booth and Vendler, assert that the whole phrase "any she" is further modified by "belied," a past participle. Vendler offers "conceived" in her model poem. Although this reading foregrounds Shakespeare's response to Petrarchan imagery, implying that other sonnetteers actively misrepresent or "belie" their mistresses' beauty, it represents a strangely non-Shakespearian construction.
Moreover, Shakespeare uses "belie" as a past participle only two other times in his poetic corpus (if we discount its appearance in "Sonnet130")--once as an apparent attibutive adjective and once as part of a passive construction. In Sonnet 140, Shakespeare uses "belied" in a parallel structure that requires repetition of the main verb of the sentence to be complete. In the closing lines of the poem, the poetic voice demands that "mad slanderers by mad ears" should not be believed. After an abrupt grammatical break, the poem concludes with an admonition for honorable behavior, addressed to his beloved: "That I may not be so, nor thou belied, / Bear thine eyes straight, though thy proud heart go wide". The couplet, dependent upon the previous two lines, demonstrates clearly the vulnerability that the poetic voice feels to "mad slanderers" who might actively misrepresent him or his beloved. Thus, although apparently an attributive adjective on first reading, "belied" acts as the past participial complement of "may not be so"; thus "I" and "thou" are linked together in a compound subject. More frequently in Shakespearean diction, "belie" appears in complete passive constructions.
If read with these Shakespearian tendencies, the final couplet of "Sonnet130" changes dramatically. It changes from a (pro)nominal phrase modified by a past participle to a relative clause with the relative pronoun deleted: "And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare / As any [whom] she belied with false compare." Although a zero-relative was "rarely found in the sixteenth century," it was possible and is found regularly inSidney. This alternative reading changes the focus of the poem dramatically: she (the mistress) becomes an agent of misrepresentation and potentially a poet herself--or at least a speaker who "belies" others "with false compare." The question becomes whom has she belied? Is this the reason that the poet says, "I love to hear her speak"? Does she belie others as she speaks? Although this alternative reading presents an interesting possibility, which could feed debate about the identity of Shakespeare's dark lady, it also opens up another potential reading. Whereas Booth asserts that Shakespeare has "no target" and Vendler must imagine a poem to which Shakespeare replies, the peculiar use of "she" in the final couplet of "Sonnet130" might hint at a direct link between Shakespeare's poem and that of another sonnetteer.
The characteristically non-Shakespearian use of "she" in the final line of "Sonnet130" creates an ambiguity that will most likely not be resolved by simple grammatical analysis and comparison with other occurrences in Shakespeare's corpus, but neither should it be overlooked just because it might disrupt conventional readings of the poem. Although this proposed alternative reading does not invalidate the premise that Shakespeare pokes fun at the--by his time--sorely overused Petrarchan conceits, it does open up two potential avenues for further scholarship: that the dark lady may actually be a speaking subject rather than simply an object of visual desire and that Shakespeare may have Astrophil and Stella specifically in mind as he composes some of his sonnets.

3) Commentary on Sonnet 130

This sonnet, one of Shakespeare's most famous, plays an elaborate joke on the conventions of love poetry common to Shakespeare's day, and it is so well-conceived that the joke remains funny today. Most sonnet sequences in Elizabethan England were modeled after that of Petrarch.Petrarch's famous sonnet sequence was written as a series of love poems to an idealized and idolized mistress named Laura. In the sonnets, Petrarch praises her beauty, her worth, and her perfection using an extraordinary variety of metaphors based largely on natural beauties. In Shakespeare's day, these metaphors had already become cliche (as, indeed, they still are today), but they were still the accepted technique for writing love poetry. The result was that poems tended to make highly idealizing comparisons between nature and the poets' lover that were, if taken literally, completely ridiculous. My mistress' eyes are like the sun; her lips are red as coral; her cheeks are like roses, her breasts are white as snow, her voice is like music, she is a goddess. /PARAGRAPH In many ways, Shakespeare's sonnets subvert and reverse the conventions of the Petrarchan love sequence: the idealizing love poems, for instance, are written not to a perfect woman but to an admittedly imperfect man, and the love poems to the dark lady are anything but idealizing ("My love is as a fever, longing still / For that which longer nurseth the disease" is hardly a Petrarchan conceit.) Sonnet 130 mocks the typical Petrarchan metaphors by presenting a speaker who seems to take them at face value, and somewhat bemusedly, decides to tell the truth. Your mistress' eyes are like the sun? That's strange--my mistress' eyes aren't at all like the sun. Your mistress' breath smells like perfume? My mistress' breath reeks compared to perfume. In the couplet, then, the speaker shows his full intent, which is to insist that love does not need these conceits in order to be real; and women do not need to look like flowers or the sun in order to be beautiful.

The rhetorical structure of Sonnet 130 is important to its effect. In the first quatrain, the speaker spends one line on each comparison between his mistress and something else (the sun, coral, snow, and wires--the one positive thing in the whole poem some part of his mistress is like. In the second and third quatrains, he expands the descriptions to occupy two lines each, so that roses/cheeks, perfume/breath, music/voice, and goddess/mistress each receive a pair of unrhymed lines. This creates the effect of an expanding and developing argument, and neatly prevents the poem--which does, after all, rely on a single kind of joke for its first twelve lines--from becoming stagnant.
4)Shakespeare's 154 sonnets, taken together, are frequently described as a sequence, and this is generally divided into two sections. Sonnets 1-126 focus on a young man and the speaker's friendship with him, and Sonnets 127-52 focus on the speaker's relationship with a woman. Many of Shakespeare's themes are conventional sonnet topics, such as love and beauty, and the related motifs of time and mutability. But Shakespeare treats these themes in his own, distinctive fashion—most notably by addressing the poems of love and praise not to a fair maiden but instead to a young man; and by including a second subject of passion: a woman of questionable attractiveness and virtue. In Sonnet 130, the speaker describes the woman that he loves in extremely unflattering terms but claims that he truly loves her, which lends credibility to his claim because even though he does not find her attractive, he still declares his love for her. The sentences of Sonnet 130 are written in iambic pentameter, with ten syllables and a pattern of unstressed and stressed syllables. Writing the poem in iambic pentameter gives rhythm to the poem and helps it flow smoothly.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->1)<!--[endif]-->Mabillard, Amanda. "An Analysis of Shakespeare's Sonnet 130". Shakespeare Online. 2000. http://www.shakespeare-online.com (day/month/year).
<!--[if !supportLists]-->2)<!--[endif]-->Shakespeare's SONNET 130 , By: Doe, Jane, Scholarly Journal, number, Date, Vol. #, Issue #
<!--[if !supportLists]-->3)<!--[endif]-->Sparknotes.com – commentary on sonnet 130
<!--[if !supportLists]-->4)<!--[endif]-->Google search

shakespeare dark lady sonnets - GS

shakespeare dark lady sonnets analysis - GS


Shakespeare's sonnets - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Jump to The Dark Lady‎: "The Dark Lady" redirects here. For other uses, see Dark Lady. The Dark Lady sequence (sonnets 127–152), distinguishes itself ...

Analysis of Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 - My mistress's eyes

www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/130detail.htmlCached - Similar
Shakespeare's sonnet 130 - My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun - with ... The dark lady, who ultimately betrays the poet, appears in sonnets 127 to 154.

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