Shakespeare Sonnet 130 — An “Honest” Tribute to his “Homely” Lover

“Poetic Wednesday”

As an English major in college, I was required to take a full semester class on Shakespeare. To enhance my study, I listened to recordings of famous actors while I followed along with the text.

Sonnet 130 is one of Shakespeare’s most popular. It is satire.

The theme is: you don’t need to exaggerate your Lady’s beauty in order to truly love her.  She can have bad breath, hair like wires, and stomp when she walks, because – true love is “rare,” and doesn’t need “false compare.”


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 demasked, 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 belied with false compare.

                                              —William Shakespeare


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