Sonnet 132

Shakespeare Sonnet 132

THine eies I loue, and they as pittying me,
Knowing thy heart torment me with diſdaine,
Haue put on black, and louing mourners bee,
Looking with pretty ruth vpon my paine.
And truly not the morning Sun of Heauen
Better becomes the gray cheeks of th’ Eaſt,
Nor that full Starre that vſhers in the Eauen
Doth halfe that glory to the ſober Weſt
As thoſe two morning eyes become thy face:
O let it then as well beſeeme thy heart
To mourne for me ſince mourning doth thee grace,
And ſute thy pitty like in euery part.
Then will I ſweare beauty her ſelfe is blacke,
And all they foule that thy complexion lacke.

Sonnet 132 in its treatment of the mistress’ eyes is not dissimiliar to Sonnet 127, while its terms, “torment,” “disdaine,” “ruth,” “pittying,” and “paine,” are customarily ascribed by sonneteers to their mistresses. Its first two lines are contracted and awkward. The poet begins bluntly by stating that he loves the mistress’ eyes (“Thine eyes I loue”). Her eyes, as if to pity him, and knowing that her heart treats him with scorn, have dressed themselves in black (“Haue put on black”). Attired in the black of mourning, they become “louing mourners” (in Sonnet 127.10 they only “mourners seeme”), as they look down on the poet’s pain with pleasing or proper pity (“pretty ruth”).

The second section, comprising 5 lines and not a quatrain, compares the extent to which the mistress’ eyes befit her face with the extent to which the “morning” sun and the “Eauen” star fit their backgrounds, with the morning/mourning pun always present (“As those two morning eyes become thy face”). The rising “Sun of Heauen” less befits the pale grey light of early morning, pictured as the sun’s cheeks (“gray cheeks of th’East;” compare Rom. 2.3.1-2, “The gray ey’d morne smiles on the frowning night, / Checkring the Easterne Clouds with streakes of light”). Nor does Hesperus, the bright evening star (“full Starre”), which brings in the evening (“vshers in the Eauen”), divide (Halfe”) its glory with the darkly-hued west (“sober West”) to the same degree.

Since the mistress’ eyes and heart are known to each other, the poet’s prayer is that her heart might find it equally fitting (“as well beseeme”) to grieve for him (“To mourne for me”), since mourning attires or befits her (“doth thee grace”). She is asked to “sute thy pitty like in euery part:” to make her pity suitable to every part; to dress (“suit”) her every part with pity; to set out or distribute (“suit”) her pity through (“like”) every part; finally to ‘soot’ (“suit”) or blacken her every part (“like”) with pity cannot be ignored. Then the poet will avow (“sweare”) that “beauty her selfe is blacke;” beauty, as is pulchritudo, is feminine (compare Greene’s Gwydonius, “beautie her selfe was the victorie I meant to vaunt of;” see also Sonnet 20.2), because it is either dressed in or imbued with black. He will also declare dark (“foule”) anything that doesn’t display the same dark complexion as the mistress (“that thy complexion lacke”).

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132.1. Robert Greene, Gwydonius (London: William Ponsonby, 1584) 27.

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