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.

Sonnet 130: Translation to modern English


My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun; coral is far more than her lips are. If snow is white, all I can say is that her breasts are a brownish grey colour. If hairs can be compared with wires then black hairs grow on her head. I know what pink, red and white roses look like but I don’t see any roses in her cheeks. And there’s more pleasure in some perfumes than there is in my mistress’ reeking breath! I love her voice although I know that music is more pleasing to the ear. I admit I’ve never seen a goddess walking; when my mistress walks she treads firmly on the ground. And yet, by heaven, I think that my love is as unique as any woman who is the subject of a romantic poem.


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