Summary and Analysis Sonnet 132


Sonnet 132 represents an intensification of the poet’s feelings for the Dark Lady, ironically paralleling his former relationship with the youth in that the poet recognizes that she does not love him. Built around an image of the woman’s eyes, the sonnet is most notable for an extended pun on the words “morning” and “mourning.”

The first quatrain leaves little doubt that the woman has no amorous feelings for the poet. Addressing the woman, the poet acknowledges that her heart “torments” him “with disdain.” How does he know this? He sees her disaffection in her eyes, which “Have put on black and loving mourners be, / Looking with pretty ruth upon [his] pain.” The word “mourners” in line 3 is punned in the first line of the second quatrain, in which the poet describes the woman’s eyes in comparison to how the “morning sun of heaven / Better becomes the grey cheeks of the east.” However, note how unflattering are the poet’s comparisons between the woman’s eyes and nature: Nature is not brightly shining; rather it is “grey” and “sober.” The third quatrain completes the poet’s thoughts in the second quatrain. The comparisons he makes are to the woman’s “two mourning eyes” because of the pity she feels for him. Ironically, the woman’s dark, “mourning” eyes make her even more attractive to the poet, who, in the concluding couplet, again swears allegiance to the woman’s beauty and calls “foul” all other women whose looks are not as black as the Dark Lady’s.


ruth pity.