William Shakespeare has produced numerous sonnets on the theme of undying love. This paper compares and contrasts the sonnets, My Mistress' Eyes Are Nothing Like the Sun (hereinafter My Mistress’ Eyes) and Shall I Compare Thee to A Summer’s Day (hereinafter A Summer’s Day)…
These poems illustrate the theme of eternal love, although in My Mistress' Eyes, the speaker uses a realistic approach and constructs the poem as a parody of traditional sonneteers’ romanticized descriptions of their mistresses, while A Summer’s Day underscores the speaker’s everlasting love through undermining the inability of a traditional notion of summer in capturing his beloved’s magnificence. My Mistress' Eyes lampoons the usual similes and metaphors of romantic sonneteers, whereas A Summer’s Day employs eternal summer and lasting lines as fitting metaphors for his eternal love and his beloved’s beauty.
The theme of these poems is undying love, although love is depicted in different approaches. In My Mistress' Eyes, the speaker does not even start with the usual compliment given to women’s physical attractiveness. Instead, he immediately begins with a negative depiction: “My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun” (Shakespeare line 1). The rest of the lines are all contradictions of the common similes and metaphors of love poems, such as comparing women’s beauty or their facial parts to corals, snow, roses, perfumes, and goddesses. Nevertheless, in line 13, the speaker asserts his undying devotion to his mistress when he says: “And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare/As any she belied with false compare” (Shakespeare 13-14). The speaker stresses that his love may probably be more lasting than those who describe their mistresses in unrealistic terms. As one article notes: “…he thinks his beloved is as unique as any other woman who has been lied about by other poets through the use of false comparators” (Grace 1)....
He finds “summer” inadequate, however, because it is too short, “…summer's lease hath all too short a date” (Shakespeare 4), “too hot” (Shakespeare 5), “dimm’d” by the clouds (Shakespeare 6), and “declines” in beauty (Shakespeare 7). Apparently, the summer’s day is incomparable to the love he feels for his audience and the kind of beauty his beloved possesses. Instead, the only object that he can compare his love to is with his “eternal lines” (Shakespeare 12). Only through these lines can his love breathe forever and that is how much he loves his target audience. The speakers of these two poems emphasize that their love is rare and undying, but My Mistress' Eyes satirizes the traditional sonneteers’ idealized descriptions of their mistresses, while A Summer’s Day underscores the speaker’s everlasting love through comparing his love to summer and poetry. The speaker in My Mistress' Eyes does not think twice in saying what he “sees” in his mistress. He is direct in his tone, when he says that his mistress is nothing like the sun, corals, snow, roses, perfumes, and goddesses. He matter-of-factly states: “Coral is far more red than her lips' red;/If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun” (Shakespeare 2-3). Her lips are not at all red and her breasts are even dun or brownish gray. Roses are red, but the speaker asserts that these roses are not found in his mistress’ cheeks. He even notes that her breath is far from perfume and that it “reeks” (Shakespeare 8). And yet he loves hearing her speak, even when “…music hath a far more pleasing sound” (Shakespeare 10). He also cannot compare her to a goddess, for he has not seen one in his lifetime. At the same ...
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