William Shakespeare’s poem “My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like the Sun” is a love poem depicting how something as beautiful as the sun could never compare to his mistress’ beauty. William Shakespeare was an English playwright and poet, widely regarded as the greatest writer of the English language. He wrote many sonnets throughout his life, though this particular one was published posthumously.
The musical composition “My Mistress’ Eyes are Nothing Like the Sun” was written by Benjamin Britten in 1947. This piece is usually performed with accompaniment, but there are several instrumental versions that can be played alone for ensembles of various sizes. It has been recorded and performed by artists such as Christian Lindberg, William Randall Beard, Lara St. John, William McColl, Esther Lamneck, William Whitehead, Vladimir Ashkenazy and Robert Holl.
William Shakespeare’s poem “My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like The Sun” is an interesting look into William Shakespeare’s life. William, who died in 1616, has given us many wonderful poems and stories. William wrote this particular poem around 1590-1595. Shakespeare’s mistress was not his wife but a young woman whom William used to steal away with while his wife Anne Hathaway kept their house. William had three children with Anne, though records of their births or baptisms have yet to be found. William married Anne on November 28th 1582 at the age of 18 for reasons that are still unknown today.
At 24 years old, William’s mistress was already pregnant with another man’s child. William’s marriage to Anne must have been difficult for William, as William isn’t even present at the birth of their first child. William chose this mistress because he found her physically attractive, but William could not accept that his lover had an affair with almost every man in Stratford-upon-Avon. William thought himself intellectually superior to his mistress which is why William believed “my love surpasses knowledge” (l. ).
William claims not only does he love more than anyone can possibly understand, but that she has “frailty thy name is woman! ” (l. 13) This line shows William how women are seen as terrible and cannot be trusted like men can be. William trusts his mistress less because she can have a child from someone else while William has to marry Anne for the same reason. In William’s mind, his lover was nothing like the sun which is often used in William’s day as a symbol of purity and perfection.
William goes on to describe how he will never love any woman but her. William claims that men who admire women only do so only because they are infatuated by their youth, beauty, or some other physical attribute. William believes a man’s love comes solely out of the respect he has for their mind over anything else about them. William Shakespeare writes this poem in iambic pentameter with an ABABCDCD rhyme scheme. William also uses a few puns in the beginning of the poem with similar sounding words to add to his meaning.
William Shakespeare plays on words when he says “thy lovely hue” (l. 3) because hue means both color and demeanour/appearance, thus William is saying her appearance engenders thoughts of meekness which cannot compare to William’s mistress who has wonderful eyes that appear bright, blue, and full of life. In William Shakespeare’s “My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like The Sun,” William shows how much he loves his mistress but at the same time shows how little he trusts women in general.
William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 depicts a man who compares his love to certain characteristics of nature. In the sonnet, he states that unlike the sun, his lover’s eyes do not shine as bright. Rather than neglecting her eyes, William uses imagery from nature that describes how brimming with life and beauty his lover is.
In William Shakespeare’s poem “My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like The Sun,” William Shakespeare delves into a comparison between himself and a woman in which it shows all of William’s love for this woman, but at the same time also implies William’s constant struggle to win over this lady’s attention even though she hardly acknowledges William’s presence or existence.
William does not give a name to this woman, but William instead refers to her as “my mistress.” William does not refer to this woman by the woman’s name because William wants everyone who reads his poem to be able relate and see themselves in William’s situation. Furthermore, William creates a perfect opportunity for readers of the poem, regardless if they are male or female, young or old.
The sonnet opens with William describing how “My Mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun,” (line 1) even though the reader should know that he is attracted to his mistress; William takes it upon himself to state something negative about his lady love at the very beginning of the poem which may seem unnecessary. However, William begins this way so he gets everything out of the way that William does not like about his mistress, and William states these negatives early on in order for William to be able to build up all of William’s likes about this woman.
The reason William uses the sun as comparison with his mistress is because William feels as if she should naturally bring his thoughts towards such a positive entity such as the sun. However, instead William finds himself thinking sad sad thoughts even though William should be happy simply by being around his lady love. This cause William to muse over why he has so many negative feelings when he knows that there is nothing wrong with “My Mistress'” (line 2) eyes at all and that they do not need any improvement whatsoever.
In line 3 William asks this woman, his mistress “What’s her that looketh on thy bright eyes / And thinketh them like the sun?” William asks this question because William is wondering what qualities or characteristics this woman possesses that William can compare to the sun. William also wants to know why William’s mistress would ever come up with an idea so ludicrous as to compare “thy bright eyes” (line 3) to the sun, which William feels only enhances the love William has for his lady.
The next stanza opens up with William stating how much he is in awe of “My Mistress'” (line 4) beauty and how it brings about a certain feeling inside of William whenever he sees her. This makes William feel as if he should be praising his beloved, but William does not do it out of fear that William’s mistress will simply brush William off and continue with her day.
In line 5 William states, “But when she turneth away from my gaze,” William feels a sense of sadness because William wants his lover to notice him and every single thing about him, but at the same time William is afraid to make himself known. William fears rejection from his beloved which makes William feel as if he needs his lady love more than anything in the world even though this may not be true. In fact, lines 6-7 state how William would gladly give up certain things for his mistress regardless of whether or not she thinks of William just as much.