Both poems are written by William Shakespeare. They originate from two different sources. One is part of a play, Two Gentlemen of Verona. The other is a poem found in a bundle with various other poems written by Shakespeare. The poems have the same theme, as love and infatuation are the main topics. Their purpose is to portray a person in such a way that the reader can visualize the topic and enter into the writer’s experience. The song ‘Why is Sylvia’ is organized into three five-line stanzas. Each of the stanzas uses the rhyme scheme of ABABA within. While you might, at a glance, note the ‘-ings’ in all five lines of the third stanza. The A lines are a simple ‘-ing’, while the B lines are ‘-elling’ endings. ‘Sonnet 130’ is not divided into stanzas, but still uses the rhyme scheme of ABAB. Although, not entirely throughout the poem. The last two sentences rhyme and therefore do not follow the rhyme scheme. ‘Sonnet 130’ is written in the first person.
This is quite logical, because the writer describes his own lover. In this way, you get to know his personal feelings from his own perspective. ‘Who is Sylvia’ is not written in the first person. It is written in the third person. The writer discusses the characteristics of Sylvia. He constantly uses the words ‘she’ or ‘Sylvia’. The tone set in the poem, which is admiring and weighing, is created to let the reader wonder about all the characteristics of Sylvia. Shakespeare has a positive view on Sylvia, but still he has a doubtful edge. ‘Sonnet 130’ starts with an unexpected tone. He emphasizes all her imperfections. Although, he ends his poem with a comment showing he loves her despite everything. ‘Who is Sylvia’ was written during the Renaissance. The writing during the Renaissance had typical influences of the author’s personal life.
Therefore, we could conclude that ‘Who is Sylvia’ could be based on his own experiences. In most poems with a theme including love has references to the perfection of his or her loved one. In ‘Sonnet 130’, these references to such objects of perfection are indeed present, but they are there to illustrate that his lover is not as beautiful. In every line he makes a comparison, mostly by using metaphors, of his lover to something seen perfect in his eyes. “Coral is far more red than her lips’ red”, “If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head” and “And in some perfumes is there more delight than in the breath that from my mistress reeks”. He says that her lips are not red enough and that even coral is a brighter red than her lips. If hairs would be wires, hers would be black and not golden.
Furthermore, he tells us that her breath is not as pleasant as he would have hoped for. These are all examples of his comparisons involving his mistress. In the first line, he uses a simile in his comparison, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”. They are not very pleasing and so not following the classic Italian sonnet structure used by Petrach. Shakespeare ends his sonnet by proclaiming his love for his mistress despite all of her ‘defaults’. This is when he embraces the theme in Petrarch’s sonnets, which is total and consuming love.
Shakespeare uses a new structure in ‘Sonnet 130’, through which the straightforward theme of his lover’s simplicity is portrayed in three quatrains and neatly concluded in the final couplet. Shakespeare is using many techniques available, including the strict rules of the sonnet structure itself. His sonnet consists out of fourteen lines printed as a whole. However, by using the rhyme scheme (ABABCDCDEFEFGG) his sonnet consists out of three quatrains and one distich. The last two lines give the conclusion of the sonnet.