Thursday, December 5, 2013

Sonnet LXXVIII (78)

So oft have I invoked thee for my Muse
And found such fair assistance in my verse
As every alien pen hath got my use
And under thee their poesy disperse.
Thine eyes that taught the dumb on high to sing
And heavy ignorance aloft to fly
Have added feathers to the learned's wing
And given grace a double majesty.
Yet be most proud of that which I compile,
Whose influence is thine and born of thee:
In others' works thou dost but mend the style,
And arts with thy sweet graces graced be;
But thou art all my art and dost advance
As high as learning my rude ignorance.

3. As. -- That. It may be doubted whether the words "every alien pen" require us to suppose that Shakespeare had more than one rival in the favour of Mr. W. H. See lxxix. 4Got my use. -- "Acquired my habit [of writing verse to you]." -- DOWDEN. 

4. Under thee. -- Under thy auspices. 

7. The learned's wing. -- To the wing of the poet's "learned" rival. The word "learned" suits very well the Greek scholar, Chapman. 

8. A double majesty. An expression quite suitable if Shakespeare has in view Chapman's Homeric translation. 

9. Compile. -- Compose. 

10. Born of thee. -- Q. has "borne," and it is just possible that this may mean "supported and borne aloft by thee." 

12, 13. Arts -- art. -- Maybe understood of "learning." Cf. lxvi. 9. But there is reference here to poetical style. 

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