Not Your Typical Love Sonnet
Looking at Sonnet 130 by William Shakespeare superficially it appears to be no different than any of his other works. It follows the same rhyme scheme and patterns that are characteristic of any classic Shakespearian sonnet. It is a lyric poem with very formal sounding poetic diction, arranged in a single stanza, and composed of fourteen lines patterned in three English quatrains with a heroic couplet at the end. The lines are all ten syllables, end-stopped, in an ababcdcdefefgg rhyme scheme. It is when you read this poem, and see how he chooses to express his feelings for the woman that he loves, that it becomes evident that it varies greatly from any typical love sonnet one might expect to read.
This poem seems to be speaking not to any one particular person, but to more of a general audience. In it the narrator begins to describe his mistress, whom the reader would naturally assume he held some type of deep feelings for.
But rather than using conventional imagery to enhance the visual, auditory, and olfactory images of his mistress' features, Shakespeare does just the opposite. He begins the poem with the line, "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;" where one would normally expect the line to be more to the effect of "My mistress' eyes burn like the sun, or contain the beauty of a sunset, or something along those lines. He continues to use this type of almost reverse simile, hyperbole, and allusion throughout the rest of the poem to describe what the woman, with whom he is so in love with, is lacking in physical splendor.
It is hard to tell exactly what effect Shakespeare, as the narrator of this poem, sought to convey to the reader about his...