Saturday, March 14, 2009

Poetry Friday

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun (Sonnet 130)

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.


Quite a while back, the guy who set "She Walks in Beauty" set this sonnet to choral music. We were singing this piece at a rare concert in the recital hall and, low and behold, Becky was sitting just behind our conductor from where I was sitting. No matter what, I couldn't help but look at her.
As we sang this piece, we get to the rousing climax, the women are repeating, "And yet by heav'n," and the the men keep singing, "I love her," over and over; I started crying. Ever since then, I get weepy over this song.
This sonnet goes against all the other sappy love poems. Instead of telling you how perfect one's love is for another, it talks about how imperfect everything in the relationship is. Yes, it's saying that the object of love is imperfect, but it's really saying more than that. The whole thing about love is imperfect. One doesn't understand that until the last line, "and yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare as any she belied with false compare."
"Sigh," I really wish I was at home now instead of sitting at work.

3 comments:

M.Filly said...

That song always gave me a thrilling rush of energy. No tears, but I can understand the sentiment. I need to start singing again.

~moe~ said...

That's beautiful. I'd love to hear the choral piece.

Baritonality said...

Mike, I agree. You (and I) should.

moe, next time we see each other, remind me to bring my iPod. I'll play it for you.