Sharpening Your Skills (and Your Pen):

Analyzing and Writing a Shakespearean Poem

How to Read a Sonnet

  1. Identify the rhyme scheme and meter. This will help you determine the type of sonnet, which can help you identify the problem lines and the solution lines.
  2. Read it aloud.
  3. Have someone read it aloud to you. 
  4. Find any words that you don't understand and define them.
  5. Restate every one to two lines in modern English.
  6. Identify and interpret double meanings, puns, or poetic devices.

"Sonnet 130"

Original Text

1) My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;

2) Coral is far more red than her lips' red;

3) If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;

4) If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.


1) My mistress' eyes are dull instead of beautiful and shining;

2) Her lips are not a beautiful and red;

3) Her skin is black instead of lovely and white like snow;

4) Her hair looks like black wires.

Original Text

5) I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,

6) But no such roses see I in her cheeks;

7) And in some perfumes is there more delight

8) Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.


5) I have seen lovely pink roses,


6) but her cheeks are not lovely like them;

7) Perfumes smell delightful,


8) but my mistress' breath stinks unlike the perfumes.

Original Text

9) I love to hear her speak, yet well I know

10) That music hath a far more pleasing sound;

11) I grant I never saw a goddess go;

12) My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:


9) I enjoy hearing my mistress talk but I know


10) music sounds much more beautiful;

11) I have never seen a goddess walk,


12) My mistress walks on the ground unlike goddesses:

Original Text

13) And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare

14) As any she belied with false compare.



13) However, I swear to Heaven, my mistress is one of a kind and lovely

14) as any other woman who was given false perfection. 

Summary of Analysis

     The speaker's mistress is not perfect. Her eyes don't glow, her skin is dark, her hair is wiry, her lips are pale; she has no color in her face, her breath smells bad, her voice is displeasing, and her walk is not graceful. However (<twist of the couplet), his lover is a real woman, not like those of other poets who highlight their lovers with perfection they do not actually behold. 

Write Your Own Shakespearean Sonnet!

Now that you know the ins and outs of the format and content a Shakespearean sonnet is made of, write your own. You have two assignments. 1) Write a sonnet and present it in a digital storyboard. 2) Confer with your group members to align your sonnets into a sonnet cycle that tells a story, and create a Prezi to show your cycle.


Your sonnet must:

1) fit the Shakespearean format (line, meter, rhyme scheme, free syntax, high level vocabulary)

2) include a passionate theme (love, envy, hate, etc.)

3) tie in to your group members' sonnets to create a cycle

4) be published in a digital storyboard (individual) and Prezi (group)

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Analyzing and Writing A Shakespearean Poem

by mwillcutt1


Public - 7/23/16, 8:40 PM