Historical Context in Sonnet 106

Historical Context Examples in Sonnet 106:

Sonnet 106 3

"Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow..."   (Sonnet 106)

The blazon in line 6 is noticeably gender-neutral in its choice of body parts. While a classic Petrarchan sonnet might describe the beloved’s long, flowing hair or fair breast, Sonnet 106 follows an androgynous list: hands, feet, lips, eyes and brows.

"Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow..."   (Sonnet 106)

Nancy Vickers argues that the blazon tradition is a reaction to the myth of Diana and Actaeon. In the myth, the hunter Actaeon is punished for his lustful gaze on the bathing goddess Diana by being turned into a stag and ripped apart by his own dogs. Vickers claims that the blazon is a way in which the poet fragments his love object before she is able to shred him to pieces.

"blazon..."   (Sonnet 106)

The blazon tradition is a poetic trope in which the speaker of the poem fragments the love object into her parts in order to describe each part as perfect and beautiful. For example, lips as red as a rose, eyes as bright as the sun, etc. Notice that this is not a blazon, but rather a description of the process of blazon.