Updated: Apr 22, 2022
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 damasked, 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.
The speaker here is in the trance of describing his ladylove. He uses irony in the first few lines. He says her eyes are nothing like the sun i.e. not too bright but pleasing. He says her lips are red but a lovely red and not coral. Her skin is brownish-grey yet her bosoms are soft as snow. And she has terrific hair that appears as if wires were grown in her head.
In the next few lines the poet wonders, though he has seen a lot of beauty in his life he hasn’t seen one like her. He says, he has seen a variety of roses in his life but hasn’t witnessed the one like her cheek. And even her stink is more pleasing than any other perfume in this world. He says he would love to listen to her speaking which would certainly sound more melodious than any music. Before the couplet he describes her walk with a goddess, the walk that she does on the ground.
The poet as usual as in his other sonnets has ended this poem with an attractive couplet. He swears by heaven that he believes that his love is rare because whatever he has compared his ladylove with is an absolute truth.