Sonnet CXXIX


The Music Lesson. Johannes Vermeer. 1662.

Sonnet CXXIX

William Shakespeare


How oft, when thou, my music, music play’st

Upon that blessed wood whose motion sounds

With thy sweet fingers, when thou gently sway’st

The wiry concord that mine ear confounds,

Do I envy those jacks that nimble leap

To kiss the tender inward of thy hand,

Whilst my poor lips, which should that harvest reap,

At the wood’s boldness by thee blushing stand!

To be so tickled, they would change their state

And situation with those dancing chips,

O’er whom thy fingers walk with gentle gait,

Making dead wood more blest than living lips.

Since saucy jacks so happy are in this,

Give them thy fingers, me thy lips to kiss.

5 thoughts on “Sonnet CXXIX”

  1. The details of the floor and table-cloth/carpet are amazing! Not to mention the reflection in the mirror! This is one of the best of Vermeer! If I would change one thing (if I had to, that is), I would probably change the man’s face … he looks like a dull lord of parliament with a look of weariness on his visage… That’s all, though. All other details of the painting are … incredible!
    I also love this Sonnet! Shakespeare never really fails in touching close to my heart.

    1. I love Vermeer for this detail.

      Although I paired the painting with a love sonnet, the original painting was of a music lesson. The man is a teacher rather than an ardent suitor.

  2. By the way, does anyone know exactly what instrument she seems to be playing …? It looks sort of like a harpsichord… I think I see the keyboard…

    1. She is playing a virginal, a keyboard instrument from the harpsichord family, popular during the Renaissance and Baroque periods.

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