Monday, November 18, 2013

Sonnet XXIV (24)

Mine eye hath play'd the painter and hath stell'd 
Thy beauty's form in table of my heart; 
My body is the frame wherein 'tis held, 
And perspective it is the painter's art. 
For through the painter must you see his skill,
To find where your true image pictured lies; 
Which in my bosom's shop is hanging still, 
That hath his windows glazed with thine eyes. 
Now see what good turns eyes for eyes have done: 
Mine eyes have drawn thy shape, and thine for me 
Are windows to my breast, where-through the sun 
Delights to peep, to gaze therein on thee; 
   Yet eyes this cunning want to grace their art;
   They draw but what they see, know not the heart.

1. Stell'd. Q. "steeld," the form of which may be right. To "steel" is possibly, as I think the Rev. W. A. Harrison suggested, to write with a steel point or stylus; and so the word may come to have a more general sense of portraying or depicting.

8. The frame. That is, of the picture, or just possibly the painting-frame, or easel. Cf. T. Watson,Teares of Fancie (1593), Sonnet 46:
"My Mistris seeing her faire counterfet
So sweetelie framed in my bleeding brest:
On it her fancie shee so fermelie set,
Thinking her selfe for want of it distrest."

4. Perspective. As used here, the meaning of the word appears to be "capability of being looked through." But though this may be the sense immediately intended, there is a reference also to the ordinary employment of the word in relation to pictorial art, whether with respect to the representation of distance, or of a picture so designed as to require to be looked at obliquely. 

5. Through the painter, &c. In the sense mentioned above. But there is probably an allusion, also, to the general necessity of taking the position occupied by an artist in painting a picture, so as to see, as it were, with his eyes. 

11. Are windows -- where-through the sun. Notice the additional proof of sincerity. Not only are the friend's eyes windows to the poet's breast, seeing everything within, but the sun himself can look through. 

14. Know not the heart. Intimating possibly a suspicion in accordance with the last lines of XXII. 

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