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Shakespeare Sonnet 132: "Thine eyes I love, and they, as pitying me"

The Shakespeare sonnets play an essential rôle in my poetry world. Those 154 classic sonnets masterfully dramatize truth, beauty, and love.

Introduction and Text of Sonnet 132: "Thine eyes I love, and they, as pitying me"

In Shakespeare sonnet 132 from the classic Shakespeare 154-sonnet sequence, addressing his dark lady, the speaker again focuses on her foul disposition, as he wishes for a better attitude from her. He dramatizes her moods by comparing them to sunrise and sunset, and punning on the word “mourning.” He wishes for “morning” but continues to receive “mourning” instead.

Sonnet 132: "Thine eyes I love, and they, as pitying me"

Thine eyes I love, and they, as pitying me
Knowing thy heart torment me with disdain,
Have put on black and loving mourners be,
Looking with pretty ruth upon my pain.
And truly not the morning sun of heaven
Better becomes the grey cheeks of the east,
Nor that full star that ushers in the even,
Doth half that glory to the sober west,
As those two mourning eyes become thy face:
O! let it then as well beseem thy heart
To mourn for me, since mourning doth thee grace,
And suit thy pity like in every part.
Then will I swear beauty herself is black,
And all they foul that thy complexion lack.

Reading of Sonnet 132

Commentary

The speaker is dramatizing the dark lady’s “pretty ruth,” likening her “mourning” eyes to the sun in the morning and then in the evening.

First Quatrain: The Eyes of Disdain

Thine eyes I love, and they, as pitying me
Knowing thy heart torment me with disdain,
Have put on black and loving mourners be,
Looking with pretty ruth upon my pain.

The speaker in the first quatrain of sonnet 132 asserts that he loves his lady’s eyes even as they look at him “with disdain.” She wrongs him, and he suffers, but he then dramatizes his suffering by focusing on her eyes, which he claims “put on black and [become] loving mourners.” Her eyes seem to mourn for his torment, yet they continue to gaze at him, or at his pain, with “pretty ruth.”

Second Quatrain: Glorifying the Face

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And truly not the morning sun of heaven
Better becomes the grey cheeks of the east,
Nor that full star that ushers in the even,
Doth half that glory to the sober west,

The speaker then asserts that sunrise and sunset do not beautify the land so well as her “two mourning eyes” glorify her face. The second quatrain is only part of the complete thought that continues in the third quatrain. The thought straddles the two quatrains more for the purpose of form than for content.

The speaker has likened the darkened landscape before sunrise to “grey cheeks,” which implies those dark cheeks of his mistress. The sun that is “usher[ing] in” evening is a “full star,” but it offers less than “half the glory” that the lady’s eyes give to her face.

Third Quatrain: The Drama of Mourning

As those two mourning eyes become thy face:
O! let it then as well beseem thy heart
To mourn for me, since mourning doth thee grace,
And suit thy pity like in every part.

The speaker labels his lady’s eyes, “those two mourning eyes” dramatizing them with a pun on “mourning,” and then punning again in the line “since mourning doth thee grace.” The pun implies the wish that the speaker projects: he wishes this beautiful creature had the grace of “morning,” but instead she constantly delivers the characterization of “mourning.”

The woman's eyes mourn for him not out of love but out of the pity she feels for him after she has caused his misery. His humiliation is a cross he has to bear in having a relationship with this woman.

The Couplet: Looking Past Pain

Then will I swear beauty herself is black,
And all they foul that thy complexion lack.

In the couplet, “Then will I swear beauty herself is black, / And all they foul that thy complexion lack,” the speaker again decides to accept the situation and even support the woman for her beauty. Unfortunately, the idea, beauty is a beauty does, eludes this speaker, at least for now. He will continue to look past the pain she causes him as long as he can enjoy her beauty.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes

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