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måndag 1 augusti 2016

Some reflections on some sonnets by Shakespeare and Spenser

Ye tradefull Merchants that with weary toyle
do seeke most pretious things to make your gain:
and both the Indias of their treasures spoile,
what needeth you to seeke so farre in vaine?

For loe my love doth in her selfe containe
all this worlds riches that may farre be found:
if Saphyres, loe her eies be Saphyres plaine,
if Rubies, loe hir lips be Rubies found:
If Pearles, hir teeth be pearles both pure and round;
if Yvorie, her forhead yvory weene;
if Gold, her locks are finest gold on ground;
if silver, her faire hands are silver sheene,
But that which fairest is, but few behold,
her mind adornd with vertues manifold. (Spenser, sonnet 15)

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 damask'd, 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. (Shakespeare, sonnet 130)

1. Q: What is the structure of a sonnet? Analyse the thought sequence and the imagery used in the two poems.

Iambic pentameter, rhymes in pairs except for the last two lines.

My mistress's eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips;
If snow is white, then her breasts are a brownish gray;
If hairs are like wires, hers are black and not golden.
I have seen damask roses, red and white [streaked],
But I do not see such colours in her cheeks;
And some perfumes give more delight
Than the horrid breath of my mistress.
I love to hear her speak, but still I know
That music has a much more pleasing sound.
I've never seen a goddess walk;
But I know that my mistress walks only on the ground.
And yet I think my mistress is as rare n
As any woman who has been misrepresented by ridiculous comparisons. (

Amoretti is the opposite. The girl is actually like like saphyres, rubies, pearls and gold.

2. Q: What is the relationship between Shakespeare’s and Spenser’s poem?

Amoretti is written by someone who is high on oxytocin. Shakespeare is realistic and is satiric towards poems like Amoretti. When I had the seminar on this, I had to explain to my teacher what oxytocin is. One could argue it would be enough to just write someone who is in love, but I thought it was necessary to stress that you are actually on a drug which affects your judgment, when you are in love.

3. Q: Do you think the treatments of love in these sonnets and the images used, make a strong impression even today? Which parts feel most relevant and most irrelevant to you?

Yes. We have the same symbols of beauty today. We still use comparisons to precious material to compliment someone on their looks. The only thing I react to, is that black hair would be considered worse than golden hair. Snow white had black hair, and that was considered beautiful at that time. The “ambivalence” between perception and reality is timeless. This text is from New Czech Step by Step by Lída Holá 2004:

Petr is young, tall and strong. He is very intelligent and energetic. Eva is young, beautiful, slim and elegant. She is also very intelligent and energetic. Do you think all this is true? No, it is nonsense. Eva is an absolute normal girl. She looks good, but is not a model. Petr is good, but not Superman – he's an absolute normal guy. Eva and Petr are no ideals. But Eva is in love and Petr is also in love. You know that love is blind. (my translation from Czech)

This text catches the essence of both the sonnets. (Italics is Spenser, the rest is Shakespeare.)

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