Beauty Break: Music For Your Ears, Part II

I don’t think there’s any such thing as too much Shakespeare. The Bard never gets old and when his poetry is read aloud by the likes of Alan Rickman, well, it’s simply time to drop everything and be seduced.

Sonnet 130 has always been a favorite of mine because it is so unexpected in its use of metaphor. Renaissance poets used the sonnet form to wax poetic about the beauties of the lady of the moment, comparing her to roses and sun beams and wildflowers and jewels. Metaphors and similes, lovely though they were, described human beauty in classic motifs that were decidedly familiar and revered. Shakespeare himself is no slouch in this department — we need only recall his 18th Sonnet or the glorious metaphors in the Petrarchan-style love poetry of Romeo and Juliet.

But Sonnet 130 turns all of those classic comparisons of beauty upside down and celebrates the true Beauty of the ordinary, true Beauty which is often overlooked or ignored simply because it doesn’t measure up to the grandeur of what is deemed beautiful by the culture or by history. Sonnet 130 rejoices in quiet Beauty that is hidden and not ostentatious and it celebrates a love that is more than skin-deep. This makes it the perfect poetic selection for one tiny violet, which focuses on discovering extraordinary beauty in an ordinary life. Sit back, close your eyes, and enjoy.

This is the second post in a series of three, celebrating National Poetry Month. You can find the first here.

12 thoughts on “Beauty Break: Music For Your Ears, Part II

  1. I enjoyed this last night. Love his voice. In a blog post reviewing the seventh Harry Potter film that I wrote a while back, I described Rickman’s voice as being as rich as a “viola da gamba.” His reading neatly brings out the laugh-out-loud funny nature of this sonnet. Thanks for sharing.

    • I’m so glad, Daniel! He’s wonderful, isn’t he? I’ll have to look up your article on Potter….my son is finishing the last book now and we’ve been watching the movies as he finishes each one. Lots to talk about there. Rickman is one of the very few things that make the films at all worth watching. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  2. Thanks, Angela. I wrote the review on my old blog in the summer of 2011, when movie no. 7 part 2 came out, which you can probably find via Google. A gem is Rickman’s first film performance, as Obadiah Slope (not Snape!) in the BBC adaptation of Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Towers (though the film is called The Barchester Chronicles). He’s wonderful in that role and just as slimy, if not slimier, as Snape.

    • I love Trollope! I’ll have to look for the BBC Towers — have not seen it as of yet. I’ll be sure and hunt down that review. Thanks for the tips! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Beauty Break: Music For Your Ears, Part III | Persephone Writes

  4. Angela>>>

    Sonnet 130 is beautiful.

    But I believe that in Shakespeare plots it seems that somehow women are no longer an object of desire as in the classic Romanticism.
    It is no more such a figure unattainable ideal …

    Sin, flesh sex and madness, that´s a woman. There is a quoete in Hamlet which is related with Gertrude about it.

    Shakespeare´s women commits incest, adultery and causes death. So with Gertrude in Hamlet and Othello Desdemone. Ophelia in Hamlet is also associated with lust and physical desire …
    Juliet in Romeo & Juliet causes Romeo´s death and hers too her

    It seems that women is related to the madness of the little death that the ecstasy of sex carries.

    Cheers, Aquileana !

    • Sorry Aquileana….I’ve been unable to get to anything on my blogs this week.

      I understand what you are saying about the view of women in literary art. I did my Master’s Thesis on this topic and used a lot of art and cultural references as well. There is a sense in a lot of art in which women are to blame for all of the ills befalling mankind. But I believe this view is always in tension with the opposing (and more honest) view that women’s special gifts and insight confront men with the truth about their tendency to control and abuse. You see this, for example, in Antigone. In an ideal world, this give and take would result in an openness in which both sexes see where they fall short of what they were created for and work to change to be more in line with this vision. More often,however, there is violence and blame and demonization of the other which calls one to account. Does that make sense?

      I hope to spend a little more time reading your blog “in translation” soon. I’m afraid I have a hard time keeping up with things. Thank you for being so generous with your comments. 🙂

  5. Hello Angela;

    I can´t believe you have named “Antigone”. This is one of my favourites Tragedies by Sophocles.

    Antigone represents the strenght of divine laws vs the human laws, which Creon defends.

    It was such a sad story. The poor Polynices disn´t count with the privilege of the sacred rule of burying the dead. Everyone is aware of the severity of the law, decided by Creon.

    The heroic Antigone disregarded the prohibitions, she came between the will of gods in order to resolve the conflict of laws,

    The corrupt spirit of human law at the polis, that Creon symbolizes led him to dictate Antigone´s death sentence.

    Despite the raising of the imminent punishment to Antigone, the chorus of citizens announces the death of Antigone, Haemon the after curse his father, and Eurydice, Creon’s wife,

    Only man is capable of projecting life and ensure their future, because man is free.
    But he knows very well that he can not escape death, it is known its huge limit.
    Its creative, however does not provide any security to its action and fate has powerful designs on which man can not decide.

    The hubris of man can only end digging him into an abyss, neglects both the divine and human laws. that seems to be the skeptical final lesson of the story…

    Cheers & it is such a pleasure to read you. Up soon; Aquileana 😉

    • Yes, the play is one of my favorites, as well. It is truly sad and the epitome of tragedy. But I love the strength of Antigone’s character — she adamantly refuses to back down from her principles in the face of every threat and temptation. She possesses all of the qualities of a martyr for truth and justice. So often, in literature, it seems that these heroic virtues and qualities are given to male characters and in Greek literature it is also unusual to find these qualities in a woman. I love her vision and determination. As you say, she is free, and she chooses truth over silence, love, and life. And this is a creative force, as you mention, because it gives birth to Truth in the world.

      Thank you so much for leaving your thoughts and for making the time to stop by. Always a pleasure. Cheers! 🙂

  6. Quotable. “Antigone” by Sophocles

    “When misfortune is marked by Fate, there is no liberation possible for mortals”.

    “Better by far that man is completely filled with wisdom, but if not, it is also good that attend those who speak in moderation.”
    “Many amazing things there, and yet, nothing more amazing than the man.”

    “The words arrogant of those who boast in excess after paying them back in great shock, old age teach wisdom”.

    Aquileana 🙂

    • Thanks for these, Aquileana! 🙂

      There’s so much in that play, isn’t there, to reflect on and ponder. So much wisdom and so economically stated. We have lost something, I think, in the use of language to express truth and wisdom.

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