Shakespeare and Philips en
Sonnet 130, or My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like the Sun, seems to have a lot to do with friendship. Shakespeare could not have said such things like “Coral is far more red than her lips’ red.” There must have been a very deep and understanding relationship between these two people. If Shakespeare and this woman were just lovers, Shakespeare probably would not have written such an honest poem.This woman he refers to might very well have been a friend of his mothers or an older lady. “My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground” (Damrosch et al. 1177). This could mean that she is very old and does not have the ability to walk properly. This also could lead to the conclusion that since this woman is old, she cannot put on any make-up or fix her hair anymore. This would explain lines four to eight. “If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head. I have seen roses damasked, red and white, but no such roses I see in her cheeks. And in some perfumes is there more delight than in the breath that
from my mistress reeks”( Damrosch et al. 1177). This woman may be losing her hair. That would account for the black wires’. The elderly do not usually have any colour in their face. This could be why Shakespeare said he saw no colour in her cheeks. When Shakespeare was alive, there were no toothbrushes. The older a person got, the more their teeth decayed. This must explain why his mistress had bad breath.
Through the brutal honesty of this sonnet, people can see that Shakespeare loved this
woman. The couplet illustrates this opinion. “And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare as any
she belied with false compare.” (Damrosch et al. 1178) Shakespeare is telling the readers that no matter what his mistress looks like or how old she grows, he will always love her. His mistress defines a natural beauty that no woman who is young and uses make-up can achieve. The natural beauty that this woman displays is why Shakespeare loves her so deeply and honestly.
Shakespeare does not what his audiences to know right away that he loves this woman. However, he gives readers a hint when he writes “I love to hear her speak, yet well I know that music hath a far more pleasing sound”(Damrosch et al. 1177). He tells us that he does love this woman even though her voice is cracking and unappealing.
Sonnet 130 could be taken as a love poem, but not by all people. Sonnet 130 is dedicated to natural beauty and the radiance that reside within a person, as in the case of his mistress. Her beauty is natural and wonderful and Shakespeare couldn’t be more happy with that fact.
Friendship in Emblem tells readers automatically that it is about friendship. Philips viewed the friendship between her and Lucasia as something special. “And in their posture is expressed friendship’s exalted interest: each follows where the other leans, and what each does, the other means.” Philips’s friendship with this woman is extraordinary for her. Philips finds that their friendship is something that will never fade and what one friend decides to do, the other will support her.
“The compasses that stand above express this great immortal Love, for friends, like
them, can prove this true, they are, and yet they are not, two”( Damrosch et al. 1647). Philips presents a picture of equality and free movement on both sides. Both friends are equal and the two do not judge each other. Philips also shows readers that she has overcome her isolation by having such indescribable friends.
The love that Philips has for her friends is sometimes taken as erotic. “And as each part so well is knit, that their embraces ever fit: so friends are such by destiny and no third can the place supply”( Damrosch et al. 1648). Philips does have an element of eroticism. The two parts of the female fit together favourably. This could suggest that their love fits or erotic parts fit. Philips is an erotic woman. She knows that this love is eternal and she and Lucasia intertwine so well. She and Lucasia must have been lovers since Philips refers to their parts fitting together so well and the compass, to which Donne used as eroticism. Philips also refers to their bodies separating, but they do not want to know such a outcome. “Their points, like bodies, separate; but head, like souls, knows no such fate”( Damrosch et al. 1647).
Philips suggests to the readers that they are merely good friends. If read between the lines though, readers can see that Philips and Lucasia have a much deeper love for each other.
“But as there is degree of bliss, so there’s no friendship meant by this, but such as will transmit to fame Lucasia’s and Orinda’s name” ( Damrosch et al. 1647). These last four lines may tell readers that Philips does not want the audience, or public, to know of the affair between her and Lucasia. The beginning of the poem could suggest that Philips is trying to hide their romance by stating they are just friends. If read well, readers can distinguish the relationship between Philips and Lucasia and Philips and Orinda.
Sonnet 130 may be a horrible love poem, but it does profess the truth about the way Shakespeare feels about his mistress. The natural beauty of this woman is what made Shakespeare fall in love with her in the first place. The friendship that follows this love is expressed throughout the sonnet. Shakespeare feels that their friendship is so deep and intense that he can tell the sadistic truth about this elderly woman. Their friendship is so honest that he can write this sonnet and still be friends with this mistress.
Friendship in Emblem tells the tale of how Philips forgot her isolation through an affair with another woman. The love that these two women have is more than just physical. It is emotional, spiritual, and psychological. The love is experienced on many levels, but Philips did not want this love to be public.
Their friendship is expressed in many ways also. They can trust each other on many levels and share many things with each other. They can be honest with each other and they consider each other equal.
These two poems have expressed love and friendship in many different ways. Shakespeare wrote of the honest truth and did not deny anything he wrote. Philips, on the other hand, wrote of a secret affair between her and another woman. She tried to hide the affair, but it is obvious to some people that it existed.
Love and friendship are two important elements when it comes to Shakespeare and Philips. Many of their poems have both of these elements and many of their poems express their deepest feelings for people. Wether out in the open or in secrecy.
Damrosch, David., et al. “The Longman Anthology of British Literature” Volume 1 Sonnet 130 New York: Longman, 1999 1177-1178 (quotes 1-5)
Damrosch, David., et al. “The Longman Anthology of British Literature” Volume 1 Friendship In Emblem New York: Longman, 1999 1647-1648 (quotes 6-10)