Sir John Suckling

.. out the power that the woman has over men. Her beauty gives her the power to control men in a sense, and have them desire her. He finds the power a mystery and doesn’t understand why men’s wills weaken because of a woman’s beauty. He understands, though, that his will has and will be weakened because of a woman.

Lines 20 and 21 talk about the fact that beauty, like other things in life, has certain periods of effectiveness and growth that are set. Beauty has a fate and most of the time, the fate for beauty is to age and fade. Internal beauty is the beauty that stays longer and is the more important one, for it is true and cannot be enhanced with makeup. Sonnet I can honestly relate to many peoples’ lives. Suckling is just writing about his own experience of falling slowly out of infatuation with a woman. Her beauty no longer appeals to him as strongly as it used to and he wants to know why. It is a mystery to him.

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In the biographies written about him, words like “charming,” “elegant,” “popular,” and “handsome,” have been used, so I’m sure that Suckling had many lovers and many relationships. He was well known and definitely well respected. Knowing of him, I can understand why he may write a piece like this. Many humans don’t understand the feelings they feel and why they feel them. There is a pattern of nature, in which all things grow and die, and attraction is included in that pattern. Sonnet II is a continuation of the subject matter from Sonnet I. It still deals with Suckling’s confusion about his feelings for a woman whose beauty he used to adore, and the fact that those feelings are fading. Sonnet II 1 ” Of thee (kind boy) I ask no red and white, 2 To make up my delight; 3 No odd becoming graces, 4 Black eyes, or little know-not-whats, in faces; 5 Make me but mad enough, give me good store 6 Of love for her I court: 7 I ask no more, 8 ‘Tis love in love that makes the sport.

9 There’s no such thing as that we beauty call, 10 It is mere cozenage all; 11 For though some long ago 12 Lik’d certain colours mingled so and so, 13 That doth not tie me now from choosing new: 14 If I a fancy take 15 To black and blue, 16 That fancy doth it beauty make. 17 ‘Tis not the meat, but ’tis the appetite 18 Makes eating a delight, 19 And if I like one dish 20 More than another, that a pheasant is; 21 What in our watches, that in us is found; 22 So to the height and nick 23 We up be wound, 24 No matter by what hand or trick.” (Crofts 53) In lines 1 through 5 of this piece, Suckling is stating that he is not asking for “red and white,” being the “perfect” completion and temperament of a woman. Red and white do not “delight” him. He does not need any graces or little games in a relationship. He basically wants a wholesome relationship that is not based on anything shallow or made up. Beauty is no longer the most important thing to him. In lines 6 through 8, Suckling is explaining that he will date a woman because he loves her, not because of what she looks like. When you are in love, and feel pure love, that is what is important. It is not important how beautiful the woman is, your feelings for her are what is important.

In lines 9 and 10, Suckling is talking about how he feels about beauty. He feels that there is no such thing as real beauty, for beauty is deceitful. Beauty can trick our minds. In lines 11 through 16, Suckling is talking about how in the past he has chosen women who were beautiful as partners, but now he has learned from his experiences. Now he may take a fancy to “black and blue,” which are quite different from “red and white.” If red and white are supposed to be the “perfect” combination, then black and blue are definitely not perfect.

He doesn’t care, though, if the woman is not beautiful, because as the saying goes, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” The only thing that matters is that he thinks she’s beautiful. He could care less if everyone else thinks she is ugly. He is looking more for the inner beauty of the woman. In lines 17 through 21, Suckling is using an analogy to explain what makes beauty important to most, by comparing it to food. He is basically saying that lust makes the beauty of the person, just as hunger makes the beauty of the food we are about to eat.

After you have a relationship with the person, or after you’ve eaten the food, they don’t seem as special as before you acquired them. You notice flaws about them that you didn’t notice before. You are so caught up in feelings, that you don’t look for what is truly important. Love is truly important. In lines 22 through 24, Suckling sums up his idea that we are all tricked at one time or another in our lives by beauty.

Beauty is the tricker in this sonnet, it deceives all of us. Sonnet II can again relate to most people’s lives. We all have our own experiences with being deceived by beauty. Sometimes our wish to be deceived is as strong as our desire for beauty. Suckling shared with us a very important lesson that he learned in his life. After many relationships in his past, he has learned that inner beauty and love are way more important than outer beauty. Outer beauty can fade, but inner beauty and love are real. He is expressing how he feels regardless of what other people think of his thoughts.

He is also expressing this during a time when beauty mattered a whole lot to many. It has not been recognized until recently by many that beauty isn’t always so important, so he was going out on a limb and taking a chance on how others would react to this piece. John Suckling definitely “had his own voice,” as Thomas Crofts stated, and he made sure that it was heard.


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