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  1. #1
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    Question Sonnet 130 by Shakespeare

    Hello! Could someone please answer the questions about Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 that follow for me? Many thanks!

    Q1: What did the "mistress" refer to in this context? There're several definitions of it. One of them is "a woman who is having a sexual relationship with a married man" (This definition is from Cambridge Dictionary.)

    Q2: Could you please paraphrase these two verses as below for me? Did "love" refer to his mistress or his emotion-love?

    I think my love as rare,
    As any she belied with false compare

    Q3: What does "damask" mean? Though I've looked it up in a dictionary, I am still not very clear about it.

    Q4: This is a general question. Rhymes of Shakespeare's sonnet follow the pattern abab, cdcd, efef, gg. Why are there not any space between them?

    Q5: I learned that there're an allusion to Petrarch who wrote beautiful women in his sonnets with the descriptions like sun, coral, rose, etc. as Shakespeare satirzed.

    Can most educated native speakers who don't major in English literature grasp the allusion if without any teachers' help?

    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.
    Last edited by thedaffodils; 01-Nov-2008 at 04:05. Reason: grammatical errors

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Sonnet 130 by Shakespeare

    1. In Shakespeare's writings, and for his times, 'mistress' was a woman loved and courted by a man.

    2. The sonnet is a parody. Most poets rave about the girl they love, using superlatives when they compare her as being 'fairer than any rose", "hair of pure spun gold', 'eyes of the most brilliant... etc. If any girl really was that beautiful, then her beauty would be rare indeed, and such a girl would be rare. But in fact, these comparisons are poetic, and belie ( do not give a true representation of) her looks, and just how quite ordinary looking the girl might be.
    Shakespeare does not attempt to use hyperbole about his girlfriend. In fact, he refers to her flaws, and that she indeed is not perfection. Yet he considers that in her, he has found a girl just as rare as those girls depicted by other poets - poets who wax lyrical and exaggerate till their girlfriend is painted as the perfection of all that is beautiful.
    'love' in the third last line refers to the girl, not his feeling for her.

    And yet, by heaven, I think my love as (is as )rare
    As any she : 'she' here does not mean 'she =the girl I love'.
    'As any she' =as any other girl

    belied with false compare.: misrepresented by the false hyperboles, the exaggerated statements (that poets usually use in describing the love of their life)

    3. damasked : note the words 'damasked, red and white' - damasked means decorated as with a variegated pattern (and in this instance, the variegated pattern is red and white).
    Last edited by David L.; 31-Oct-2008 at 15:33.

  3. #3
    thedaffodils's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sonnet 130 by Shakespeare

    Hello David L.,

    Thank you for your help. I've understood. This sonnet is funny.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Sonnet 130 by Shakespeare

    Hello David L.,

    I've noticed that you made some supplement to your answer. Thank you very much!

    Here's a question about the title. How should I say it? I heard a native speaker read aloud it as Sonnet One-Thirty. Is it okay or usual to say "Sonnet One hundred and thirty"? Which one is more usual?
    Last edited by thedaffodils; 01-Nov-2008 at 03:59. Reason: grammatical error

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    Default Re: Sonnet 130 by Shakespeare

    Usual to say, "Sonnet one hundred and thirty."

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    Default Re: Sonnet 130 by Shakespeare

    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    Usual to say, "Sonnet one hundred and thirty."
    Hello David L.,

    Thank you for your help again.

    Have a good one!

  7. #7
    SUDHKAMP's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sonnet 130 by Shakespeare

    Quote Originally Posted by thedaffodils View Post
    Hello! Could someone please answer the questions about Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 that follow for me? Many thanks!
    Q3: What does "damask" mean? Though I've looked it up in a dictionary, I am still not very clear about it.

    Can most educated native speakers who don't major in English literature grasp the allusion if without any teachers' help?
    Ans.3 : Damask is the earlier name of the Capital of Syria.
    Meaning:
    i) A rich patterned fabric of cotton, linen, silk or wool
    ii) A fine, twilled table linen
    iii) Damascus steel
    iv) the wavy pattern on damascus steel.

    Thus damask here would mean a rose which has some wavy pattern on it and is silky or rich in touch.


    As for the last part of the post, anyone having some good education in the English literature of mediveal times, can understand and grasp what has been said, though you are sure going to require a lot of help in understanding the meaning because of perspective which changes with the depth of knowledge.
    There are many Indian English literature Professors whom I know, have spent their whole career in researching on the Shakespeare's sonnets and can be easily dubbed experts. But you certainly require help in getting the proficiency in the Mediveal literature.

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    Default Re: Sonnet 130 by Shakespeare

    Hi SUDHKAMP,

    Thank you for your response. I see!

    Have a good day!

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    Anglika is offline No Longer With Us
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    Default Re: Sonnet 130 by Shakespeare

    Here is a red and white damasked rose: http://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/garden/20...5-07%20080.jpg

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    Default Re: Sonnet 130 by Shakespeare

    Quote Originally Posted by Anglika View Post
    Here is a red and white damasked rose: http://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/garden/20...5-07%20080.jpg
    Thank you, Anglika. It's visual. I've understood. Shakespeare compares this kind of rose to a beauty who has fair complexion (white) with rosy cheeks (red).
    Last edited by thedaffodils; 02-Nov-2008 at 00:28. Reason: vivid->visual

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