Sonnet 130 ~ My mistress` eyes

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Two Sonnets
Sonnet 130 - My mistress' eyes William Shakespeare
Untitled Poem – I Am Very Bothered Simon Armitage
Starter 1a
• Write down four things you would expect to
find in a love poem.
Starter 1b
• Write a rhyming couplet that uses some or all
of the things from your list.
Learning Objectives
As we study these poems you will learn:
• the story of the poems
• More about the terms,
Sonnet: Iambic Pentameter: Blank Verse:
Sensory (Sound & Smell) Imagery: Tone
• You will also complete some Mini Tasks, an
assignment and a test on the poems.
Sonnet 130 ~ My mistress' eyes
(1609)
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 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.
William Shakespeare
The Story Of The Poem
MINI TASK 1
1. Write down what you think is unusual about this poem.
2. Write down any individual words that strike you as odd and briefly
say why you thought them unusual.
The Story Of The Poem
What is unusual is this sonnet compares the speaker’s lady-love to a
number of beautiful things, but never in his love’s favour. Her eyes
are “nothing like the sun,” her lips are less red than coral; compared to
white snow, her breasts are dun-coloured, and her hair is like black
wires on her head. He even says that her breath “reeks”.
In the final couplet, however, the poet declares that he thinks his
love as rare and valuable “As any she belied with false compare”—that
is, any love in which false comparisons were invoked to describe the
loved one’s beauty.
The final couplet makes this truly a love poem as the poet loves her
despite her imperfections.
The Structure Of The Poem
Composition
The poem is written in Sonnet form which is a love poem that has a
has a regular rhyme scheme and is written in fourteen lines.
The rhyme scheme is 6 alternate rhyming couplets and a final
rhyming couplet, or ABAB (x3) CC
MINI TASK 2: Count the number of syllables on each line.
1. What do you notice?
2. What is the effect of this?
The Structure Of The Poem
Composition
MINI TASK 2:
The poem is written in Sonnet form which is a love poem that has a
regular rhyme scheme and is written in fourteen lines.
The rhyme scheme is 6 alternate rhyming couplets and a final
rhyming couplet, or ABAB (x3) CC and.....
1. Each line contains 10 syllables
2. The effect of this is to give the poem a very even pace and
tempo.
This form is known as Iambic Pentameter.
The Structure Of The Poem
Key Feature
The key feature of this poem is IMAGERY. In fact the poem is a list of
images used to describe the poet’s mistress.
MINI TASK 3
Write down a list of the images used in the poem
The Structure Of The Poem
Key Feature
The key feature of this poem is IMAGERY. In fact the poem is a list of
images used to describe the poet’s mistress.
•Eyes not like the sun:
•Red Coral …pale lips
•White snow… tanned breasts
•Black wires for hair
•Red & white roses.
•Pale cheeks
•Perfumes (smell imagery)….smelly breath.
•Corse/harsh voice (sound imagery)
•A goddess
•Treading (trudging) on the ground
….and all of this goes to show how the poet’s mistress does not
conform to the Elizabethan ideal of beauty.
Elizabethan Beauty
The Elizabethan view of pure beauty was a woman with light hair and a
snow white complexion complimented with red cheeks and red lips. A
pale complexion could only be achieved by a woman of the upper class.
White face make-up was applied to acquire the pale look.
The favoured application of the upper classes was a make-up called
ceruse - a mixture of white lead and vinegar. It was poisonous!
Lower class women were expected to work
outside and thus acquired a suntan which made
their skin ‘dun’ coloured. The pale complexion
was therefore a sign of wealth and nobility - an
immediate identification for a person from the
upper classes. This alabaster complexion was the
also required by Elizabethan men! Queen
Elizabeth I helped set the trend for this notion of
ideal beauty which explains the oddly white face
seen in many of her portraits.
The Structure Of The Poem
Tone, Pace & Tempo
The tone of the poem seems serious and the rhyme scheme plus the
use of iambic pentameter gives the poem a very even pace and tempo.
Yet the poem is also humorous as the final couplet comes as a ‘surprise’
after all the disparaging comments made in the first 12 lines. In fact the
whole sonnet is a parody of the conventional love sonnets written by
Shakespeare's contemporaries and it is almost a direct parody of
Francesco Petrarca’s (1304-1374) sonnet Gli Occhi Di Ch' Io Parlai:
Those eyes, 'neath which my passionate rapture rose,
The arms, hands, feet, the beauty that erewhile
Could my own soul from its own self beguile,
And in a separate world of dreams enclose,
The hair's bright tresses, full of golden glows,
And the soft lightning of the angelic smile
That changed this earth to some celestial isle
PARODY =
a humorous or
satirical imitation
of a serious piece
of literature or
writing.
NOTE:
dun =
A grayish-brown color.
damask'd =
Damask is expensive multi-colored woven fabric used for clothing.
Damask is also the name of a rose renowned for its fine fragrance It is used in perfumery and to make rose water.
The Structure Of The Poem
Tone, Pace & Tempo
So in Sonnet 130, there is no use of grandiose metaphor or allusion; he
does not compare his love to Venus, there is no evocation to Morpheus,
etc. The ordinary beauty and humanity of his lover are important to
Shakespeare in this sonnet, and he deliberately uses typical love poetry
metaphors against themselves.
Thus, Shakespeare is using sonnet structure itself to enhance his parody
of the traditional sonnet.
But Shakespeare ends the sonnet by proclaiming his love for his mistress
despite her lack of beauty, so he does finally embrace the fundamental
theme in a sonnet: total and consuming love.
Untitled Poem – I Am Very Bothered
Simon Armitage
I am very bothered when I think
of the bad things I have done in my life.
Not least that time in the chemistry lab
when I held a pair of scissors by the blades
and played the handles
in the naked lilac flame of the Bunsen burner;
then called your name, and handed them over.
Oh the unrivalled stench of branded skin
as you slipped your thumb and middle finger in
then couldn't shake off the two burning rings.
Marked, the doctor said, for eternity.
Don't believe me, please, if I say
that was just my butterfingered way, at thirteen, of
asking you if you would marry me.
Simon Armitage
The Story Of The Poem
MINI TASK 4
1. Write down what you think is unusual about this poem.
2. Write down any individual words that strike you as odd and briefly
say why you thought them unusual.
The Story Of The Poem
MINI TASK 4
1. Write down what you think is unusual about this poem.
2. Write down any individual words that strike you as odd and briefly
say why you thought them unusual.
The Story Of The Poem
What is unusual about this poem is that sonnet are usually love
poems, and though there is ‘love’ in this poem it is also violent. In the
poem a young boy in a science lab calls to a girl he fancies and gives
her a pair of scissors he has heated in a Bunsen burner. The scissors
burn the girls fingers, scaring her for life.
It is interesting to note that girls really identify with the female
character in this poem as they have often experience forms of stupid
teasing by boys who do daft things like pull their hair or steal their
belongings just to get their attention.
This poem then, is an extreme example of this sort of behaviour.
The Structure Of The Poem
Composition
MINI TASK 5:
The poem is written in Sonnet form as it is a ‘love’ poem that is
written in fourteen lines. But
1. What differences do you notice comparing this poem to
Sonnet 130?
2. What is the effect of these differences?
The Structure Of The Poem
Composition
MINI TASK 5:
1. There is no formal rhyme scheme in this poem, but there are
several ‘chimes’ and internal rhymes.
when I held a pair of scissors by the blades
and played the handles
in the naked lilac flame of the Bunsen burner;
then called your name, and handed them over.
Oh the unrivalled stench of branded skin
as you slipped your thumb and middle finger in
Don't believe me, please, if I say
that was just my butterfingered way, at thirteen,
The Structure Of The Poem
Composition
MINI TASK 5:
2. What is the effect of these differences?
In Simon Armitage’s poem the rhythms is much more subtle
and it reads more like prose. In fact it is very easy to recompose the poem into a confession in three paragraphs.
I am very bothered when I think of the bad things I have done in my
life. Not least that time in the chemistry lab when I held a pair of
scissors by the blades and played the handles in the naked lilac flame
of the Bunsen burner; then called your name, and handed them over.
Oh the unrivalled stench of branded skin as you slipped your thumb
and middle finger in, then couldn't shake off the two burning rings.
Marked, the doctor said, for eternity.
Don't believe me, please, if I say that was just my butterfingered way,
at thirteen, of asking you if you would marry me.
The Structure Of The Poem
Composition
MINI TASK 5:
2. What is the effect of these differences?
The rhythm of the poem is also helped by some alliteration.
Not least that time in the chemistry lab
when I held a pair of scissors by the blades
in the naked lilac flame of the Bunsen burner;
The Structure Of The Poem
Key Feature
Like Shakespeare's sonnet, the key feature of this poem is IMAGERY.
MINI TASK 6
1. Write down a list of the images used in the poem
2. From your list, find examples of imagery that are similar in both
poems and identify the main difference in the use of imagery in
the poems.
The Structure Of The Poem
Key Feature
MINI TASK 6
1. Write down a list of the images used in the poem
 chemistry lab
(visual)
 held a pair of scissors by the blades
(visual)
 played the handles in the naked lilac flame of the Bunsen burner;
(visual)
 then called your name (sound)
 handed them over. (visual)
 the unrivalled stench of branded skin (smell)
 as you slipped your thumb and middle finger in (visual)
 then couldn't shake off the two burning rings. (visual)
 Marked, the doctor said, for eternity. (visual)
The Structure Of The Poem
Key Feature
MINI TASK 6
2. From your list, find examples of imagery that are similar in both
poems and identify the main difference in the use of imagery in the
poems.
In Shakespeare’s poem the imagery describes a person, whereas
in Armitage's poem a lot of the imagery is used to describe a
place or object. Ex the chemistry lab or scissors.
But there are two examples that are closer to each other: then called your name / hear her speak, (sound)
 the unrivalled stench of branded skin / breath that from my mistress
reeks (smell)
The Structure Of The Poem
Tone
The tone of the poem is serious and like Shakespeare's poem there is a
‘twist’ in the final couplet which overturns the meaning of the 12 lines
that have gone before.
MINI TASK 7.
Look at the last two lines of each poem and explain the differences
and similarities between them.
The Structure Of The Poem
Tone
MINI TASK 7.
Look at the last two lines of each poem and explain the differences
and similarities between them.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
that was just my butterfingered way, at thirteen,
of asking you if you would marry me.
Shakespeare’s ‘twist’ is humorous as it is a complete surprise after he
has spent the first 12 lines of the poem convincing his reader what a
terrible person this lady is. The final two lines then, come as a
complete surprise and provide an uplifting end to the poem.
The Structure Of The Poem
Tone
MINI TASK 7.
Look at the last two lines of each poem and explain the differences
and similarities between them.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
that was just my butterfingered way, at thirteen,
of asking you if you would marry me.
There is no humour in Armitage's couplet, although you could
describe it as darkly ironic. Like Sonnet 130 the last two lines do come
as a surprise as the reader is shocked that this act of wanton violence
is born out of love.
Part of this irony is that the girl carries a ring shaped scar on her
finger for ‘eternity’- a play on the gift of an eternity ring that a
husband might give his wife after several years of marriage as a token
of his love.
Assignment
Compare how William Shakespeare and Simon
Armitage present unusual love sonnets in My
Mistress Eyes & I Am Very Bothered. You need to
discuss structure as well as meaning in your answer.
500-700 words by Wed 14th November
e-mailed to [email protected]
If you want this PowerPoint go to www.timdunne.org
 Poetry  Toolbox  Two Sonnets
www.timdunne.org
Who are the poems writen to/for?
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