Shakespeare portrait

Welcome back to the Richmond Read-along! We’re starting the second week with the Bard himself, William Shakespeare. We’re sure Shakespeare needs no introduction, and the poem we’ve chosen today is one of his many sonnets, Sonnet 130. In contrast to more traditional sonnets declaring the incomparable beauty of their subject, Sonnet 130 begins by deriding the subject’s eyes and continues on from there:

“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.”

Witty, biting, yet ultimately tender and sweet; we think this sonnet shows Shakespeare at his best. Let us know what you think, or if you have a favourite sonnet; tweet us @RichmondLibs or reply to us on Facebook.

You can find this sonnet, as well as Shakespeare’s other sonnets and works, at Open Source Shakespeare. We also have the New Oxford Shakespeare Online as part of our online information library, so members of Richmond Libraries can read a wealth of information about the man and his works. If you’d like to hear the sonnets read aloud, then head over to Sir Patrick Stewart’s Twitter @SirPatStew where he is posting a video of himself reading a sonnet a day.

We’ll see you tomorrow for the next Richmond Read-along!