From time immemorial poems expressing love and beauty have always been a common theme. Lovers are always portrayed on a pedestal, possessing ethereal, goddess-like qualities. However, in “Sonnet 130,” by William Shakespeare, metaphoric contrast is used to depict his mistress as a rare natural beauty. Shakespeare ridicules the traditional expression of love, while successfully expressing his own.
The rhyme scheme of this sonnet follows an abab cdcd efef gg pattern. As a “Shakespearean” sonnet, it is organized into three quatrains of four lined stanzas and a closing couplet of two rhyming lines. The meter follows the rise and fall of natural speech with an unstressed syllable followed by ...view middle of the document...
With each quatrain there is a progression of what seems to be a metaphorical mockery on traditional love poems of the period. With her pale cheeks and malodorous breath, Shakespeare seems to be listing all of his mistress’ imperfections. From simple to increasingly complex comparisons, Shakespeare personalizes his analysis in this quatrain. A master with words, his lack of flattery for her is flattery in itself, as he loves her despite her physical faults. The extensive list is detailed into the third quatrain.
This last description of his beloved’s physical exterior depicts a realistic beauty:he third quatrain extends the comparison of his subject’s greatness over all other women:
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;
Goddess are ethereal, unattainable, and from the heavens. Shakespeare’s mistress, on the contrary, is heavy footed and earthly. He does not try to deify the dark lady, but rather do her justice in the truth. Music may sound better, but he loves her despite her imperfections for she is tangible and real...