Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sonnet XXVI (26)

Lord of my love, to whom in vassalage 
Thy merit hath my duty strongly knit, 
To thee I send this written ambassage, 
To witness duty, not to show my wit. 
Duty so great, which wit so poor as mine 
May make seem bare, in wanting words to show it,
But that I hope some good conceit of thine 
In thy soul's thought, all naked, will bestow it:
Till whatsoever star that guides my moving, 
Points on me graciously with fair aspect, 
And puts apparel on my tattered loving, 
To show me worthy of thy sweet respect: 
   Then may I dare to boast how I do love thee,
   Till then not show my head where thou may'st prove me. 

1. Vassalage. This word, like what is said in the sequel, is suited to the high station of Mr. W. H. 

2. Strongly knit. Malone compares the words of Iago in Othello, Act i. sc. 3, lines 335 seq., "I confess me knit to thy deserving with cables of perdurable toughness;" and there are other parallels. 

7, 8. The poet hopes that, when received into his friend's understanding, "some good conceit" on the part of his friend may bestow his "all-naked" verse. "Bestow" here seems to mean, not merely "lodge," but also "equip" and "clothe," like a naked wayfarer received as a guest. This agrees with the "putting apparel on my tattered loving" of line 11. 

9. My moving. The poet, it would appear, in accordance with following Sonnets, is about to commence a journey, probably of a professional nature. "My" must not be conjecturally changed to "by." He hopes that hereafter, under the benign influence of his guiding-star, he may be able to offer something more worthy of acceptance. 

11. Tattered. Q. has "tottered." Cf. ii. 4; also this "worthless poor totter'd volume." Kemp's Nine daies

12. Thy sweet respect. Q. has "their sweet respect." Respect. Regard, esteem.

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