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Sonnet 130

William Shakespeare

Page 50

Lesson Objectives
Identify the forms of traditional sonnets through analysis. Understand the terms used to describe the features of sonnets. Compare the features of Sonnet 130 with that of another poem.

Starter activity.
This poem is about love and writing- how comparisons used by lovers (and poets) are often unrealistic. Make a list in your books of all the romantic comparisons that the poet denies. Example: Her eyes are not like the sun.

Rhythm
This poem is written in Iambic Pentameter. 5 feet (pairs of syllables) Each foot has an unstressed , followed by a stressed syllable. This gives the poem a regular rhythm

Each box is a foot. Each foot has an unstressed and a stressed syllable Each line has 5 feet.

If snow If hairs

be white be wires

why then black wires

her breasts grow on

are dun; her head;

Q1. Why are the stresses reversed in the first foot of the second line?

Coral = stressed then unstressed syllable

The reverse stress emphasises how unnatural this would be in reality, by interrupting the natural rhythm of the line. This is an example of form imitating meaning.

Q2. Is there a change in structure between the first four lines and the next eight?
At first, each comparison takes up 1 line. Then the comparisons take up 2 lines.

Effect? Develops the tone of parody in the eight line section.

Q3. Which word in line eight is particularly strong ?


reeks Effect: to emphasise that the poem is a parody of romantic sonnets, it mocks the language (beautiful is replaced with ugly: wires and reeks)

Q4.What words in line nine reveal this is a love poem?

I love to hear her speak,

Q5. What romantic notion does line eleven-twelve deny?

walking on air denies she glides along gracefully as a goddess.

Q6.What words in line thirteen express the poets strength of feeling?

he swears by heaven

Q7. Why is the rhythm irregular in line thirteen?


The thought is different in the heroic couplet. The rhythm emphasises the change. Does the rhyme scheme change? How does the layout in lines 13/14 change? This is a second example of form imitating meaning.

Q8. What is the poet saying in the final couplet?

His lover is as rare (special/extraordinary) as any woman. She is so extraordinary, that the poet does not need to exaggerate her beauty with false comparisons. Any woman to whom she is compared will be shown to be false, because perfection is a myth. He loves her imperfections. True and lasting love is based in realism not idealism.

Links to other poems.


Imagery Before You Were Mine Mother rhyme Rhyme

WHAT ? Love/relationships

HOW ? sonnet form

rhythm rhythm
On My First Sonne