‘Sonnet 132′ is one of William Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets. It is part of the Dark Lady sequence of sonnets. They deal with the speaker (who is usually considered to be William Shakespeare himself) and his relationship with his mistress, the Dark Lady. This sonnet explores the strange relationship the two have and how the Lady is able to control and influence the speaker with her eyes. She pities him because she has made him suffer.
Explore Sonnet 132
In this poem’s first lines, the speaker describes how he dislikes the Lady’s attitude toward him. He can feel her disdain as she looks down on him. But, it’s something that he’s willing to put up with if he can just stay with her. He can deal with her mournful eyes since they are still beautiful and they belong to him. In the next lines, he makes several comparisons, depicting her as more beautiful than the sun but also lacking its grace.
Throughout ‘Sonnet 132,’ the poet explores themes of beauty and relationships. His relationship is controlled by the differences between how he wants to be treated, how he is treated, and his admiration for the Dark Lady’s beauty. He loves her so much that he’s willing to put up with the less than ideal way she treats him. He uses nature to describe her actions and treatment of him in the second half of the poem.
Structure and Form
‘Sonnet 132’ by William Shakespeare is a traditional sonnet that follows the pattern Shakespeare popularized. It contains fourteen lines that are divided into two quatrains, or sets of four lines, and one sestet, or set of six lines. They rhyme ABABCDCDEFEFGG as the vast majority of Shakespeare’s sonnets do.
In iambic pentameter, each line contains five sets of two beats, known as metrical feet. The first is unstressed, and the second is stressed. It sounds something like da-DUM, da-DUM. The poem can also be divided into three sets of four lines and a final two-line couplet.
Shakespeare makes use of several poetic techniques in ‘Sonnet 132’. These include but are not limited to examples of:
- Alliteration: the repetition of words with the same consonant sound. For example, “music” and “motion” in lines one and two and “sweet” and “sway’st” in line three.
- Enjambment: occurs when the poet cuts off a line before its natural stopping point—for example, the transition between lines.
- Metaphor: there is a great example of a metaphor or a comparison between two unlike things, without using “like” or “as” in lines three and four. Here, the speaker compares his lover’s eyes to mourners who do him wrong but then love him.
- Personification: the attribution of human traits to non-human objects, animals, etc. In this case, the poet personifies the Dark Lady’s eyes. They are mournful and disdainful, looking down on him in a way that bothers him but that he still finds beautiful.
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.
In the first lines of ‘Sonnet 132,’ the speaker begins by reminding the Dark Lady of his feelings for her. He says that he loves her despite the fact that she looks down on him with “disdain.” This is similar to how the speaker started ‘Sonnet 131’ in which he spoke on how tyrannical she is. The speaker suffers for his love and within his lover’s eyes. They transform into “loving mourners” dressed in black and look at his pain with “pretty ruth.” (“Ruth” meaning to feel pity for something.)This is a very clever example of a metaphor.
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,
In the second quatrain or set of four lines, the speaker continues to talk about his lover’s eyes. He says that despite their disdain and mournfulness, they still light up the land in a way that the sun could never do. He speaks about the “grey cheeks” of the landscape and the sun of her eyes, rising and brightening them. The sun is beautiful but doesn’t touch half of what the Dark Lady’s eyes do.
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.
In the third and final quatrain, the speaker calls the lady’s eyes “two mourning eyes,” relating back to the sun in the previous lines and creating a pun. This connects two different thoughts the speaker has about his lady. First, that he wishes that she was more sun-like, in her grace and warmth, and that instead, she has the “mourning” and disdainful eyes, she mourns him because she pities the suffering she’s caused. This is something that the speaker has to put up with if he wants to be with this person.
Readers who enjoyed ‘Sonnet 132’ should also consider reading some other William Shakespeare poems. For example:
- ‘Sonnet 76’ – is an upbeat poem that discusses the speaker’s love for the Youth and explores the poet’s writing.
- ‘Sonnet 36’ – explores how the speaker and the Fair Youth are no longer going to be able to see one another.
- ‘Sonnet 101’ – directed at the speaker’s muse who is failing to provide him with needed inspiration.