Today is the day William Shakespeare, the greatest poet in the English language, was born in 1564 (although he was baptised on 26th April) and it is also the day he died in 1606. Today is also marks the anniversary of the deaths of Henry Vaughan (1695), William Wordsworth (1850), Rupert Brooke (1915). There is much to be remembered today but perhaps, it’s a day to be feared by poets, as regular contibutor to The Reader magazine, Ian McMillan, writes in today’s Guardian. On top of all this, it is, of course, also St. George’s Day!
Casi Dylan, Read to Lead Training Manager selects her favourite Shakespearean sonnet to share with you.
This sonnet is one of my all-time favourite poems. What appeals to me above all is its frankness – which sometimes borders on cheekiness – its down to earth sense of a woman I can imagine as a real person, as someone who has lived and loved. There is something comforting not only in the poet’s acceptance of imperfections in a lover, but also in his love’s ability to render those imperfections ‘rare’ and true, as opposed to ‘false’ comparisons too often associated with love poetry.
My Mistress’s Eyes Are Nothing Like The Sun (Sonnet 130)
My mistress’s eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lip’s red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun,
If hair be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
In some perfumes there is more delight
Than the breath with which my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know,
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.