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   Sonnet 130

One of the best books ever written on actinga bright, racy, intelligent book - Terry Eagleton

Acting notes from Playing Shakespeare by John Barton: this sonnet is built upon surprises in the images used by the speaker. The reading needs a fine balance between textual relish and a personal humanity. All questions of handling Shakespeare's text are to do with balances between various extremes; in this case an excess of textual relish on the one hand or an excess of naturalistic throw-away on the other.

Read by Claire Marchionne
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Shakespeare by Anthony Burgess: She was very dark, in a period when to be dark was unfashionable, but the poet glories in her darkness…. Will looks at his mistress with eyes clearer than is proper for a lover.

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red, than her lips red:
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound:
I grant I never saw a goddess go,--
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
  And yet by heaven, I think my love as rare,
  As any she belied with false compare.

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