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Sonnets > Sonnet # 127, Week 46, Jan. 2

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message 1: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2724 comments Mod
In the old age black was not counted fair,
Or if it were, it bore not beauty's name;
But now is black beauty's successive heir,
And beauty slandered with a bastard shame:
For since each hand hath put on Nature's power,
Fairing the foul with Art's false borrowed face,
Sweet beauty hath no name, no holy bower,
But is profaned, if not lives in disgrace.
Therefore my mistress' eyes are raven black,
Her eyes so suited, and they mourners seem
At such who, not born fair, no beauty lack,
Sland'ring creation with a false esteem:
Yet so they mourn becoming of their woe,
That every tongue says beauty should look so.


message 2: by JimF (new)

JimF | 219 comments This is the beginning of the so-called Dark Lady sonnets.

An innocent lady lived in disgrace, being slandered and profaned in a tyrant time, what could she do for tomorrow? She covered her identity ("no name"), used dark words for her black deeds, and waited for the day men can talk ("breath") freely, or people's eyes can understand ("see") her words.

The key is in line 9, "eyes are Raven black." Raven isn't a fair word in Shakespeare usually, but here it can be. The bird was pure white before the bad news of Coronis to Apollo. She was forced to be black.

Eye has the definition of point of view; "eyes are Raven black" means the Dark Lady's black views are originally white. If we can see through her black covering, then every tongue would say a beautiful play ("beauty") should look so, like Macbeth or Hamlet.

This can be affirmed by following Dark Lady sonnets, especially line 13 of sonnet 131, "In nothing art thou black save in thy deeds."

Sonnet 127

IN the ould age blacke was not counted faire, [01]
Or if it weare it bore not beauties name:
But now is blacke beauties successiue heire,
And Beautie slanderd with a bastard shame,

For since each hand hath put on Natures power, [05]
Fairing the foule with Arts faulse borrow'd face,
Sweet beauty hath no name no holy boure,
But is prophan'd, if not liues in disgrace.

Therefore my Mistersse eyes are Rauen blacke, [09]
Her eyes so suted, and they mourners seeme,
At such who not borne faire no beauty lack,
Slandring Creation with a false esteeme,

Yet so they mourne becomming of their woe, [13]
That euery toung saies beauty should looke so.


message 3: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) JimF wrote: "This is the beginning of the so-called Dark Lady sonnets.

An innocent lady lived in disgrace, being slandered and profaned in a tyrant time, what could she do for tomorrow? She covered her identit..."


That's an interesting interpretation, and could justify S's cryptic verse.

I also think the idea that his dark lady's natural beauty is in contrast to the fashion of milk-white skin and make-up has merit. It may be difficult for a man to understand, but a woman's skin, and her skin color, along with her hair and its health and color, are hugely important to a woman's sense of herself, especially as she is compared to other women. This was particularly true in S's time, when a tanned skin (dark or black in their eyes) represented peasantry and lower class activities which required work outdoors.

S's complaint seems to be about artifice triumphing over naturalness, which could extend further than make-up and skin color ("Fairing the foul with Art's false borrowed face") to include those who pretend to be truthful but are in fact false and full of pretense.

There are references to white-skinned beauties in some of S's plays, but I don't remember which ones or the direct quotes.


message 4: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2724 comments Mod
I’ve been catching up on last two seasons of RuPauls drag race.

And complexion is a pretty big deal....that those men understand! It’s a great show for watching how much work we do to get ready sometimes! And how complexion is a form of art as the skin is a canvas for drag queens.


message 5: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) Candy wrote: "I’ve been catching up on last two seasons of RuPauls drag race.

And complexion is a pretty big deal....that those men understand! It’s a great show for watching how much work we do to get ready s..."


Ah! That's fascinating!


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