Sonnet 130 Close Reading

This is my last-ditch attempt at completing my writing badge. Like many others who are flooding this blog with posts after months of procrastination, I am currently in a state of panic. Release the panic…oh…release the panic.

I decided to do a close reading of one of my favorite sonnets. I first came across this sonnet back in grade eight…oh the memories.


After an initial read-through of this sonnet, I quickly realised that this sonnet serves as a criticism (or rather, a parody) on the idolization and comparison of women to natural beauties found in Petrarch’s sonnets. The speaker is comparing his mistress to natural beauties, but instead of complimenting her, it seems as though he is insulting her. It is not until the couplet when the speaker reveals to the audience that he is not insulting her, but rather, suggesting that his love is rare.

The use of sensory imagery is heavy in this sonnet, describing the physical attributes of the mistress. Starting off with sight, we come across the mistress’ eyes, which “are nothing like the sun”. The redness of her lips are compared to coral in the next line: “Coral is far more red than her lips’ red”. Her hair is compared to wires (touch/texture), and her breath reeks (smell). He then compares her voice to music, where “music hath a far more pleasing sound”. The progression of the descriptions from head to toe with metaphors and similes suggest that the speaker is caressing his mistress (even in jest) with words.

This sonnet can be read in a sarcastic tone, possibly as a response to another man’s description of his mistress (this sonnet is, after all, a parody). It is almost as if the speaker is pointing out the obvious as a way to criticize the sheer absurdity of the comparisons. For instance, he could be saying that his mistress’ eyes are not like the sun, and it would be very strange if it were so, as one could not possibly have eyes like the sun. And no, her lips cannot be as red as coral –it’s another impossible and ridiculous comparison.

Not Better but Biggest

Maybe I’ll feel the need to put these into proper Shakespearean order at some point. Maybe everything ever deserves more than two sonnets. For now:


Seamus Takes an Astronomy Course Part 1: The Beginning


From blind eternities bloom’d fire, light, dust,

In clouds of which torrential dawning birth

Did shake the waking seconds, therein must

Have risen the infinities of Earth.


Each blade of Man’s own craft was forg’d before,

And every bit of silver that his guile

Did rend from bloody soil was score on score

First render’d ‘fore the mountains mile on mile.


Though these days now are seen in brighter hues

Than those that were when eyes and days were none,

Again will come those days-sans-days when muse

Of fire, of light, of dust is iron, is dun.


When all that woke before it yet could wake

Seeks sleep again, will any live to quake?


Seamus Takes an Astronomy Course Part 2: The End


The last that stood in drownèd catacombs,

Or those that watch, long from their home remov’d,

Beneath what might have been celestial domes

That our grandfathers once espied and prov’d,


Will find themselves each witnesses, and each

Will think themselves accursèd, staring there,

Will think of ancient savages and preach

That we’d been better knowing not their care.


Yet here, a beast, I look ahead, the end

Unreal to me and all, I’d think, who know

Just when it can be known, and attend

The dawn and dusk with eyes set on their glow.


Were we yet shiv’ring in the world’s first light,

We’d still long for that wisdom lost to night.

Blow, Wind, and Crack Your Cheeks!

I dunno, I like that line.



I am not a professional dramaturg. I did not hate Theatre Calgary’s production of King Lear. I only saw it once, and that was on the first night of performance.

Still, something’s been nagging at me about that performance.

I’ve expressed some dissatisfaction with Theatre Calgary’s version of the play already in one of the responses for this course. Until Artistic Associate Shari Wattling’s presentation in class last week, perhaps I didn’t have a real grasp of what was bothering me. Hearing her reiterate the company’s vision of the play as a drama focused on Lear and his family, however, began to bring some of the issues I’d picked up on into focus. Later in that same presentation Ms. Wattling also spoke about the (very real) joy of hearing Shakespeare’s villains describing their plots to the audience via direct soliloquy, and this was enough for me to realize what was behind the tension that I had felt.

Theatre Calgary wanted to focus on the relationships of King Lear’s central family, but it seems to me that in doing so they lost a good amount of focus on much of the rest of the production. King Lear is, of course, a family drama. The tensions of sabotage and betrayal extend further than Lear and his daughters, however, and they are not the only characters in the play who deserve an honest portrayal as people with thoughts and motives that are (in their own minds) justified.

To treat Edmund as a villain without the complexity provided to him by the text of the play, without the drive towards murderous intrigue that in his mind is rendered valid by his mistreatment, does much to rob his final attempt at redemption of its impact. Why should an audience be expected to believe Edmund’s final change of heart when throughout the play to that point he has been shown to be only a moustache-twirling evildoer? Michael Blake can’t be accused of delivering a bad performance in the role, but somewhere along the way the unity of the production seems to have unravelled. Edmund became, in this telling of the story, unsympathetic and uncomplicated. This does not seem to me to be the proper state of things for the bleak and grey (morally and otherwise) tale that is King Lear.

I like to root for a good villain. Villains have free reign to be a bit more interesting, a bit more intelligent and conniving than the troublesome protagonists they find themselves pitted against. Shakespeare is to my knowledge beyond all competition in his ability to craft anti-heroes, characters which beg their audiences to secretly cheer them on. Iago and Edmund certainly fall into this category and Macbeth eventually falls to their ranks in his own story. The most famous of Shakespeare’s heroes flirt with that dark and complicated villainy as well, neither Romeo nor Hamlet being above getting their hands dirty. Shakespeare’s tragedies are driven by their villains and by their soon-to-be villains, and to see one of them excluded from his most profound moments of family drama by the seemingly simplistic decisions behind this production of King Lear was certainly a disappointment.

Genres + modes: visual art

Hear’s a drawing of Antonio’s  arrest, as he pleads for viola( disguised as Cesario), who he thinks is Sebastian to save him. viola is surrounded by sir Andrew and Sir Toby.  I chose to draw this because it carries over that element of disguise and false identity present in Twelfth Night.


Lost Sonnet

And here’s a last try:


You feel the need to be lost in the crowd.
A jumble of people, of food, and light,
For you can scream, dance, or be super loud.
Best of all, you can blend into the night.

There’s really no direction to follow.
Nothing to guide you, or make you go.
People make you feel a lot less hollow,
Filling you up inside, letting you glow.


However, it’s best when no one knows you,
For you can be truly another face.
Belonging in the crowd, feeling so true,
Floating around, just being very you.


You have to be lost to find something new,
To discover that you are in the view.

April 9, Tutorial Follow-up

(Facetime Badge) April 9, 2015

Today’s tutorial left me with lots of new considerations regarding Shakespeare’s interpretation of beauty and sin, particularly through his ability to create the exterior attractiveness and intoxication of sin.  The imagery of virtue removed and falseness revealed reminded me of Edgar Allen Poe’s, Imp of the Perverse- the urge to sin just for the sole purpose of doing so.  Placing one’s carnal desires and actions on another is a very common element in Shakespeare’s sonnets (often towards women) but ultimately because the sonnet is a more personal slice of writing, the ownership of lust ultimately reflects back onto the speaker. It unites and blends the lines of gender as we are all ultimately vulnerable to jealously, deceit, longing and loneliness.  Many consider beauty and sin to be opposing forces, however each contains identical emotions and reactions, as Shakespeare brilliantly demonstrates, they truly are one of the same.

troilus and Cressida poster

troilus 2

I chose the background image for this poster to be a picture of helen of troy from greek mythology as she is the reason the war is being fought and also cressida is a parallel for helen in the play. the quote is also a paraphrase from greek mythology as  feel that it brings focus to the ridiculousness of the reasons behind the events of the play.

Sonnet #3

Your eyes shine like a galaxy of stars,

your skin is as soft as a kitten is.

Your lips are as red as the sand of Mars,

making me want to come and steal a kiss.

My mind is occupied by thoughts of you,

you stay in my thoughts throughout the whole day.

You never leave, no matter what I do,

the love that I feel, is what I must say.

For when I am with you, this way I feel,

The butterflies fly and the birds do sing.

Sometimes I question if this is all real,

and if you will ever accept my ring.

Will the universe just give me a sign,

so that I can make this beauty all mine.

Angst Sonnet

Here is another try at a sonnet:

Do I just blend into the scenery?
Like roses in a garden collection,
Or another piece of machinery,
For you never look in my direction.
Am I another current in the sea?
Just another push of the rolling wind,
Or an extra general yellow bee.
Have your shut me, closed me out of your mind?


When did you start to forget about me?
You promised me we would be together,
Embraced forever, laughing, dancing free.
But now our distance has widened further.


I will not forget, nor will I forgive,
To forget me you will have to outlive.