Sonnet: His Mistress Replies to Sonnet 130

In fact, I wrote this back in 1995 or thereabouts, inspired by Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin and the character who wrote a sonnet a day ‘to keep his hand in’.  I tried taking psychology lecture notes in sonnet form for a while, but it didn’t help.  Anyway, this was one of my better efforts.  It’s a reply to this sonnet by Shakespeare.


My poet’s pen is sharper than nine swords;
I thought true love should muzzle unkind truth.
What right have you to mock me with these words?
For nor are you some godly-handsome youth!
It’s true I find your closing lines are sweet;
What woman would not wish to be called rare?
But wilful Will, admit that ’tis not meet
To slight the colour of your lady’s hair!
Your style of loving sonnet is unique;
A compliment, you tell me, to my wit.
Still, it’s not pleasant to be told I reek;
Good Will, will you not flatter me a bit?
Yet my goodwill you have, for this is true:
Imperfect like meets like when I meet you.

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