Book Review: Sonnet 130-The Sonnets of William Shakespeare

Book Review:  Sonnet 130-The Sonnets of William Shakespeare

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

I took this opportunity to learn something about 16-century writers, Shakespeare’s associated writers and clear examples of literary devices for which he may be well known.   I was taken by gender subtleties and the use of  the buried “tenor” to illustrate a male subject or “target domain.” ( 1)  In Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 130” relates to one word (tenor) which may be pivotal in the text and provide the texts “evidence” which shifts the focus for the reader.  I appreciate this kind of “driver,” and “target domain” that creates for the reader a  societal shift or movement towards the period’s radicalism. The whole poem may be anchored in this way, by one word, with which he reveals the text. Coincidentally, Shakespeare may be well known for the use of the target domain.  I was enchanted by the use of literary devices to layer his meaning both in ”form and function” as if in design.  Form and function are illustrated by the dynamic way in which each line is laid in a reverse pattern juxtaposed with the content also written to the contrary.  Shakespeare was privy to a 16th-century “sonnet craze” and chose to contrast as well as identify with many poets of this period.  Some associated writers of the period were:  Petrarch, Edmund Spenser, Thomas Watson, Michael Drayton, Barnabe Barnes, Richard Linches and Sir Philip Sidney. About Shakespeare’s poem, it is written, “to play off the tradition of Petrarchan love poetry.” (Abecarian, 839).  Shakespeare presented in response to classical comparisons of beauty, ideals and love of the period, a radical contrast in Sonnet 130.  Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 parodies and satirizes beauty, ideals, and love in terms of reversals with the use of alliteration, assonance, and anastrophe.


Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 uses alliteration where consonants are used close together.  (owlcation) In the first line of verse in Sonnet 130, Shakespeare uses alliteration to insert deeper meaning and even “coded” or hidden meaning often or for special effect.  The first line codes my mistress’s eyes, where one hears “stress mistress and eyes” as if in code.  There were earlier poets in the fourteenth century such as William Langland and Piers Plowman and even still earlier (Hildebrand) such was titled “Alliterative Verse,” and employed a diversity of rhyme scheme or in this case unrhymed scheme utilizing perhaps code or just repetition and consonants.


Shakespeare utilized the literary device “assonance” where words have similar vowels.  In the second line, it may have been in code “coral and far,” perhaps suggesting a clandestine meeting place in a barn or distant place.  Shakespeare, a master of English, style and writing as if by design, inserted innuendo, and perhaps coded messages within a variety of literary devices.  Shakespeare was said to have “written sonnets 127-154 to this mysterious dark lady.” (owlcation)


Shakespeare used negated similes to illustrate the reversal of ideals in the 16th-century society by employing anastrophe in his line structure. (owlcation) Although a variety of rhyme schemes were employed from Petrarchan Sonnet methods to alliterative verse, to assonance, what gave Shakespeare’s poetry its depth and richness were perhaps the layers of form and function.  The inverted language embodied an inverted idea which had inverted lines.  Shakespearean poems when dissected had perhaps several instances where for example he writes in reverse “in some perfumes, is there more delight.”  He inserts, in this case, intrigue and question, and perhaps the suggestion of an alternative or question whether a greater pleasure.


Shakespearean Sonnet 130 challenges beauty, ideals, and love via literary devices such as alliteration, assonance, and anastrophe.  Sonnet 130 is typical of an English love sonnet emanating from true Petrarchan style. Petrarchan sonnets during the 16th century followed a 14-line formula, an 8  line “octave” followed by a 6 line “sestet” and couplet. The rhyme may have had a “Valentine” 14-line love structure depending on which came first. The rhyme scheme for these poems was abab cdcd efef gg structure. (Petrarch Slide Share) On closer inspection, society may find Shakespeare referential, full of innuendo, coded, as if written to wife and lover simultaneously-for the blind and the seer.  The 16th-century culture may have reflected on this use of a literary device or on what became a sonnet craze, where one’s identity or even “intimacy” may be still further conveyed in myriad and dynamic rhymed and unrhymed schemes. As if one may insert into life something in every consonant, vowel, syllable, line-in every literary corner-one may find a place to insert meaning, impacting one’s identity and consequently one’s language and culture.  As if to use “all,” every consonant, every vowel, every literary ability, not efficiency or economy, but down some other road of utility, structure, architecture.  When one may have believed meter limited content, a fallacy indeed.  Shakespeare is perhaps made for the close reading, the examination and analysis,  the scrutiny, the more-and-more to find, the Easter egg hunt.  As if the document had pockets, or corners or roads, as if the writer were builder and words were bricks.  All methods or rather literary devices were carefully coded, perhaps to man and to language.  Man’s language and literary devices may reflect on the man himself.


Works Cited:

Shakespeare, William. “Sonnet 130,” Abcarian, Richard, Marvin Klotz, and Samuel Cohen, eds. Literature: The Human Experience: Reading and Writing. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016. Print. p.838

Abcarian, Richard, Marvin Klotz, and Samuel Cohen, eds. Literature: The Human Experience: Reading and Writing. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016. Print. An Analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130. The concept of love and beauty, Bergische Universität Wuppertal  (Anglistik und Amerikanistik) Introduction to Literary Studies,  2017 Anthology, Norton, 2005…


Up to Snuff #126 Book List Alliterative Verse (Poetry)

Up to Snuff #126 Book list Alliterative Verse (Poetry)

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu


William Langland-Allegorical Narrative Poem

Piers Plowman


Chaucer-Canterbury Tales

Sir Gawain and The Green Knight



Alliterative Morte Arthure

St. Erkenwald

The Raven Edgar Allan Poe


The Rime of Ancient Mariner  Samuel Taylor

The Age of Anxiety W.H. Auden

The Three Dead Kings

Mum and the Sothsegger

Death be not proud

Songs for the Philologists

Sonnet 5

Sir Galahad

“Long Marriage” Excerpt from Sago Palm

Long Marriage

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu


He planned the conversation

That one needs to have at the start of their marriage

To have a long marriage

He planned to hold it together

To keep it fresh

To even rehearse intimacy

To maintain respect and nonviolence

He made a deal with his wife

He asked himself and his partner, “Are we a forever marriage?”

If you do not say it, “Are we a forever marriage?”  Perhaps it is not.

Some cultures have real steady men that mate for life

Some are circulators, vacillate, some grow tired, some do not, some marry more than one

Some have tested ways for maintaining relationships

For taking care of their match, preserving them, educating and teaching them, beautifying them, grooming them, making them happy, pleasing them, romancing them

Some develop ways for coasting holiday to holiday

Some want social matches, even socialites, prepared for culinary and a lifestyle of entertaining

Some want many, many friends, some want a homemaker and a home

Some want a premium wife or a sophisticated housewife

Some want a match with good taste and good tastes home

Some want a head of household

Some want a mother, some want a father

Some want a parent that is a teacher for their children

Some will build a children’s schoolhouse

Some will garden

Some will fill the house with flowers

Some will collect recipes and fill binders and plan

Some spend summer here and winters there

Some plan family trusts, philanthropy, community building and children’s trust funds


Excerpt from upcoming poetry book “Sago Palm” by Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu




Between two cones

Between two cones

She measured the distance between two cones

Then calculated how many times back and forth to achieve a mile

She walked a mile

Between two cones

How fast can she walk a mile between two cones?

In this small space, a distance

Between two stones

She walked a mile

How far, how fast?

How can she create peace with her steps?

On the way to the right stone

She thought blue

On the way to the left stone

She thought green

Blue she thought can be water

Green she thought can be trees

She purified herself with simple meditation in this way- water and tree

The small steps that make up a great distance

How to create a context of peace within oneself

Excerpt from upcoming book, “Sago Palm,” by Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

That Poor Old Girl

That poor old girl

Strips the buttons from the discarded dresses

She strips the zips

She strips the cuffs

She strips the collar and hem

She strips the sleeves

She strips a nice yoke


That poor old girl

 From the old dresses

She pieces a quilt


That poor old girl

Grows a big piece of cloth out of scraps

That poor old girl is braiding the selvage

That poor old girl coils and stitches the braids to make a hat

That poor old girl saves for tomorrow

That poor old girl saves for tomorrow, today


Excerpt from upcoming collection of poems “Sago Palm” by Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

Up to Snuff #125: Book list literature, film and online

Up to Snuff #125:  Book list literature, film and online

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

The Poetry Handbook, John Lennard, OUP, 2005

Plato’s Republic

Tacit Learning

(Shakespearean references)


Edmund Spenser

Thomas Watson

Michael Drayton

Barnabe Barnes

Richard Linches

Sir Philip Sidney

Wild Strawberries (Film)

Kennedy, John, “A Confederacy of Dunces,” Louisiana State University Press, 1980, p. 1

Poe, Edgar Allan, “Tales of Mystery and Imagination,

Poe, Edgar Allan, “Fifty Stories for Boys,”

“The Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe.”

Quotidian Writer (online/Youtube)

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath

The Long Winter

Robinson Cruscoe, Daniel Defoe

Agatha Christie

Fiddler on the Roof

Brave New World

Handmaids Tale



Design Thinking Odyssey

Alice Walker

Grapes of Wrath

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Things Fall Apart

East of Eden

Memoirs of a Geisha

Windup girl

Willa Cather-My Antonia

Challenger Deep, Neal Shusterman

Ha Jin

John Updike

Up to Snuff #124: Book list some admired

Up to Snuff #124:  Book list some admired

by, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

  • Plato
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • William Shakespeare
  • Charles Dickens
  • Samuel Beckett
  • Somerset Maugham
  • Gustave Flaubert
  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Mahatma Gandhi
  • Karl Marx
  • Ha Jin
  • OSHO
  • Ryszard Kapuscinski
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Design Thinking
  • James Baldwin
  • O. Wilson
  • Cultural Branding examples: (Arabian Nights, Wild Irish Rose, Don Quixote, Daphne DuMaurier)
  • Chaucer
  • Tertiary Sources and Resources
  • New York Times Op-Ed Writer
  • Frithjof Bergmann
  • Confucius
  • John Updike
  • Jack A. Hobbs & Robert L. Duncan
  • Pablo Neruda
  • Rumi
  • Thich Nat Hanh
  • Dalai Lama
  • Oscar Wilde
  • Deepak Chopra
  • Alice Walker
  • Voltaire
  • Balzac
  • Maupassant
  • Lord David Cecil
  • Byron
  • Dylan Thomas
  • Hebrew
  • Christian
  • Jane Austen
  • Evelyn Waugh
  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Leo Tolstoy
  • Nikolai Gogol
  • Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  • Breton
  • Ionesco
  • Sartre
  • Kant
  • Hegel
  • Franz Kafka
  • Franz Fanon
  • Albert Camus
  • Mary Wollencraft Shelly
  • Emily Bronte
  • Daniel Keyes
  • Zora Neale Hurston
  • Anais Nin
  • Maya Angelou
  • Hans Christian Andersen
  • S. Lewis
  • Carlos Casteneda
  • Gita
  • Koran
  • Andrew Loomis
  • Baudelaire
  • Nietzsche
  • Octavio Paz
  • Henry Miller
  • Danielle Steele
  • Hermann Hesse
  • Keats
  • Chinua Achebe
  • Francis Bebey
  • Mongo Beti
  • Audre Lorde
  • August Wilson
  • TS Eliot
  • Chekov
  • Noam Chomsky
  • Martin Heidegger
  • Aristotle
  • Euripides
  • Falun Gong
  • Jose Saramago
  • Rosario
  • J Spiro
  • Hugo von Hofmannsthal
  • Mathew Arnold
  • Yusef Komunyakaa
  • Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
  • Richard Powers
  • Ngugi wa Thiong’o
  • Michel Butor
  • Linda Hogan
  • Larry Woiwode
  • Jayne Anne Phillips
  • Vergil
  • Twentieth-Century British Drama, Patricia Marks
  • Spanish Drama since 1600’s Frank Casa
  • Sven Rossel Scandinavian Poetry
  • Russian Poetry Mitzi, Brunsdale
  • Renaissance Drama Jean-Pierre Barricelli
  • William Haggard
  • Leon Lewis Native America Short Fiction
  • Nobuko Toyosawa
  • Tulsidas
  • Jean-Marie Morel
  • Bharatchandra Raj
  • Margaret B. Wan
  • Paul Andersen
  • Malik B. Asas
  • Maram Epstein
  • David W. Burchmore
  • Juliet Mullins
  • John Tzetles
  • Giovanni Giovaiano Pontano
  • Abril Fazl
  • Observation & Experiment Paul R. Rosenbaum
  • Ingenius Peter Gluckman
  • John Danaber



Up to Snuff # 123: Close reading of literature list

Up to Snuff #123:  Close reading of literature list

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu


A slow detailed examination of a text



-Figurative content






-One section, larger work

-Relate to definition of larger work



-Cultural events

-Image, similes, meaphors



-Secondary definition

-Literal content

-Structure organized


-Pattern, rhythm, sentence, form, rhyme

-Unconventional grammar


-Equal weight


Works cited:

Richard Abercarian, Marvin Klotz and Samuel Cohen, eds. Literature:  The Human Experience:  Reading and Writing.  New York:  Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016, Print

Up to Snuff #122: Dissecting a piece of literature list

Up to Snuff #122:  Dissecting a piece of literature list

by, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu
-Textual evidence

-Literary devices

-Literature in general

-As a study of a technique for improving one’s writing

-Sources of effectiveness

-Language of the essay

-Energize abstract ideas

-Details moving experience

-Use figurative language

-Metaphor and similes

-Physical and emotional language

-In the prose

-Tone of voice

-Stylistic choices it creates

-How author moved to point of view

-Thesis, tone, style

-Rhetorical strategies

-Major visions


-Begin and conclude








-Cause and effect


-Unifying ideas












Serve authors purpose


Works extracted/cited from:

Richard Abercarian, Marvin Klotz and Samuel Cohen, eds. Literature:  The Human Experience:  Reading and Writing.  New York:  Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016, Print

Book Review: Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130

Book Review:  Shakespeare Sonnet 130

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

Shakespeare, perhaps responding the 16th century Elizabethan “sonnet craze,” wrote Sonnet 130. ( Negated lines, contrasting the periods classical themes of ideals for beauty love and desire appear in his traditional iambic pentameter.  At the finish, the satirical poem reveals a “tenor,” or “target domain” and Shakespeare’s beauty becomes a man.  (

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 utilizes many literary devices including alliteration, assonance, and repetition.  Some words use consonants close together (alliteration), other lines use words that have similar vowels as in “assonance,” and lastly for emphasis the writer employed repetition where he repeats actual words like “red” or “wire.” (Owlcation)  Most delectable is Shakespeare’s use of “anastrophe,” which highlights the inversion or order of words and draws the reader into to its midpoint.  Anastrophe may have conveyed a secondary meaning where the writer has inverted the sentence structure and fundamentally the traditional subject or ideals of the age-inverting woman for man.  (owlcation/humanities)

The piece was compared to Petrarch and the conventional Italian Sonnet, as well as English poet Edmund Spenser. ( Other poets have been cited in comparison or as he their disciple, such “Thomas Watson, Michael Drayton, Barnabe Barnes, Richard Linches and Sir Philip Sidney.”(Mowat 1)  Where traditional themes for hair, lips, skin were employed and common comparisons were meant to seem as if “falsified” or unworthy of comparison.  Shakespeare’s “tenor” eventually emerges, full of contrast, with love perhaps unimaginable, without praising beauty but suggesting inadequacy or contrary.  The poem is typical of an English love sonnet with 14 lines, three quatrains and concluding with a heroic couplet. (owlcation/humanities) It uses an “abab cdcd efef gg structure.”  It ends in “stopped lines and has breaks in syntax.” (owlcation)  Lines appear as similes with consistent negative comparison.  The poem utilizes an overt “lyric I,” and is written in the first person singular.  (

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 has meter and rhyme and relates strongly to the history of the love sonnet. Shakespeare perhaps challenging an Elizabethan status quo which had become predictable, wrote sonnets 127-154 to this “mysterious dark lady.” (owlcation) The mysterious dark lady may have possibly been a real-life lover. (owlcation) Sonnet 130, is meant to be a radical in a time period where traditional poets are often alluding to the ideal woman who is compared to sunlight and roses, and who in this case, may not have had a soft gait, but a thud.

Works cited:

Shakespeare, William. “Sonnet 130,” Abcarian, Richard, Marvin Klotz, and Samuel Cohen, eds. Literature: The Human Experience: Reading and Writing. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016. Print. p.838

Abcarian, Richard, Marvin Klotz, and Samuel Cohen, eds. Literature: The Human Experience: Reading and Writing. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016. Print. An Analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130. The concept of love and beauty, Bergische Universität Wuppertal  (Anglistik und Amerikanistik) Introduction to Literary Studies,  2017 Anthology, Norton, 2005