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No matter how ugly a physical defect may be, the poet claims that it cannot compare to the unsightliness of an “inward, suspicious mind.” This change in focus from outward appearance to inward attributes suggests a more profound concern for moral and psychological flaws. It sends a message about the value of inner beauty and the damage that can result from suspicious and pessimistic attitudes.
About the poet
Although the expression “no crooked leg, no bleared eye” is not directly linked to Queen Elizabeth I, it comes from Thomas Dekker’s poem “Golden Slumbers” and has no historical significance. The Elizabethan age, when Queen Elizabeth I ruled, was a period of thriving arts and culture. She is known as the “Virgin Queen” and one of the most famous rulers in English history. In keeping with the adage “no crooked leg, no bleared eye,” Queen Elizabeth I’s legacy is shaped more by the profound influence of her political savvy, intelligence, and the moral principles that shaped her reign than by outward manifestations.
It is a concise poem containing only four lines that exhibit a relatively regular iambic meter, with alternating unstressed and stressed syllables.
No crookèd leg, no blearèd eye, No part deformèd out of kind, Nor yet so ugly half can be As is the inward suspicious mind.
The first line of the poem declares that there are no physical flaws or abnormalities, such as a crooked leg or a bleared (dimmed or blurred) eye. The lack of visible defects is the main focus. The following sentence develops the idea of physical perfection from the preceding line. It states that every bodily part is erect and does not differ from its typical kind or form. The speaker emphasizes the notion of physical integrity and health.
The speaker goes on to compare the two, saying that not even half of a person’s body can be as repulsive as what is stated in the following sentence. This creates a difference between the outside and the inside. The inside, or internal, part of a person—the mind—is more potentially undesirable or causing harm than any outward blemish, according to the final sentence that ends the stanza. The emphasis turns from the outside to the inside, emphasizing the detrimental effects of having a skeptical or suspicious mindset.
These sentences highlight the damaging aspect of having a suspicious mindset and draw a contrast between physical perfection and the possible ugliness inherent in one’s inner attributes. The speaker makes the argument that internal flaws and virtues matter more than outward physical defects. This thematic contrast emphasizes the importance of inner traits above outer appearances, which adds to the poem’s overall meaning.