Shakespeare's Sonnets

Colonial Beauty in Sidney's "Astrophil and Stella" and Shaksespeare's Sonnets

The unique and extraordinary elements of dark beauty translate to an exotic alterity in the poets' eyes. The more obvious, and traditional, methods bestow the woman with godly attributes. Shakespeare first refutes this resemblance by underscoring his mistress' earth-bound properties in Sonnet 130: "I grant I never saw a goddess go,/ My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground" (11-12). Then Shakespeare swears "by heaven" that she does have some goddess-like power through his love (13). Sidney lards his sonnets with divine references; Stella's eyes let her "miraculous power show," and they are also "The windows now through which this heavenly guest/ Looks over the world" ("A&S: 7," 9; "A&S: 9," 9-10). Even though it is the women's dark properties which recall their other-worldliness, traditional fair-haired heroines inspire similar reactions in their documentarists' poetry. Hall contends that there is a relationship between the dark women's alterity and the England's advances in colonization:

"It is the attraction and fear of the possibility of 'otherness' and linguistic polysemy that underlie most of the tropes of...

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