Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sonnet XXVIII (28)

How can I then return in happy plight, 
That am debarr'd the benefit of rest? 
When day's oppression is not eas'd by night,
But day by night, and night by day, oppress'd? 
And each, though enemies to either's reign, 
Do in consent shake hands to torture me, 
The one by toil, the other to complain 
How far I toil, still farther off from thee. 
I tell the day, to please him, thou art bright, 
And dost him grace when clouds do blot the heaven: 
So flatter I the swart-complexion'd night, 
When sparkling stars twire not thou gild'st the even.
   But day doth daily draw my sorrows longer, 
   And night doth nightly make grief's strength seem stronger.


1-4. As to the "oppression" here spoken of, see the preceding Sonnet, lines 1 to 7. 

8. The one by toil, &c. Day inflicts pain by the toil of journeying, and night by the leisure afforded for reflecting how much farther the poet is separated from his friend by the day's journey. 

11. Swart. Swarthy, dark. Cf. Comedy of Errors, Act iii. sc. 2, line 104, "Swart, like my shoe;" andHenry VI., First Part, Act i. sc. 2, line 84, "And whereas I was black and swart before." 

12. Twire. To peep, and so, possibly, to twinkle, both peeping and twinkling being intermittent. Dowden quotes, "I saw the wench that twired and twinkled at thee the other day." -- Beaumont and Fletcher, Woman Pleased, Act iv. sc. i ; and "Which maids will twire at, 'tween their fingers thus." -- Ben Jonson, Sad Shepherd, Act ii. sc. i. The Rev. W. A. Harrison observes, "Two meanings of 'twire' are found in old writers, (a) that of 'chirp' or 'twitter,' used of birds; (6) that given above, 'to peep or look out at intervals,' as the stars twinkling; cf. Isaiah (E.V.) x. 14." In this passage of Isaiah the Hebrew word metsaphtseph, translated "peeped," is used of the chirping of young birds in the nest: "And there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped." Gild'st. Q. "guil'st."

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