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.
Sonnet 130 by William Shakespeare is without doubt my favourite of his sonnets. I know he wrote it satirically, hoping to do nothing more than mock the predictable passions of courtly love that were being spouted with regularity, however, I actually think there is something lovely about it. Most girls are very much aware that their eyes aren’t really bluer than sapphires, that silk is softer than their hair, and that their lips aren’t really like roses. It all sounds very pretty to hear, but it seems to lack anything remotely genuine or personal – it’s the sort of thing a guy could say to any girl, any where. It might make us feel lovely for a few minutes, but it hasn’t got any lasting value – they’re just pretty words. But this, acknowledging her faults, listing the many aspects of nature that she can’t measure up to, and then accepting her and his love for her – it’s real. It’s him saying he knows exactly who she is, and that he loves her for that. It’s a love that can be counted on because it is based on really people, not imagery and poetry. As Mark Darcy said to Bridget Jones ‘I like you. Just the way you are.’ Having previously described her as smoking like a chimney, drinking like a fish, and dressing like her mother, we know that he is aware that ‘just the way she is is’ far from perfect. But he loves her anyway.
I think that given the choice, most girls would choose someone who saw them, saw their faults, the cracks, the missing pieces and parts that make-up won’t cover, and loved them anyway, than to have someone who waxed lyrical about their beauty, but couldn’t accept their faults and weaknesses. Being loved for exactly who you are most certainly trumps being told nice words about beauty.