Thursday, December 5, 2013

Sonnet LXXXII (82)

I grant thou wert not married to my Muse
And therefore mayst without attaint o'erlook
The dedicated words which writers use
Of their fair subject, blessing every book
Thou art as fair in knowledge as in hue,
Finding thy worth a limit past my praise,
And therefore art enforced to seek anew
Some fresher stamp of the time-bettering days
And do so, love; yet when they have devised
What strained touches rhetoric can lend,
Thou truly fair wert truly sympathized
In true plain words by thy true-telling friend;
And their gross painting might be better used
Where cheeks need blood; in thee it is abused.


1. Not married to my Muse. Dowden suggests, "His friend had perhaps alleged in playful self-justification that he had not married Shakspere's Muse, vowing to forsake all other, and keep only unto her." 

3. Dedicated words. Taking into account the next line, which speaks, apparently, of "blessing" a book by lines in praise of Mr. W. H., the "fair subject," there is possibly reference to a dedication either actual or proposed. 
5. On this line Professor Dowden says, "Shakespeare had celebrated his friend's beauty (hue); perhaps his learned rival had celebrated the patron's knowledge; such excellence reached 'a limit past the praise' of Shakespeare, who knew small Latin and less Greek." Subsequently, in the title to a Sonnet accompanying his translation of the Iliad, Chapman addressed Pembroke as "the Learned and Most Noble Patron of Learning," and the Sonnet celebrates Pembroke's "god-like learning." 

6. Finding thy worth. If the view just given of the last line be accepted, then "finding thy worth" will be equivalent to "and thus findest thy worth." 

8. Some fresher stamp, &c. Some poet whose method and diction are in better accord with the more advanced ideas of the times. 

10. The verses of the rival-poet in praise of Mr. W. H. not being extant, it is impossible to say whether they surpassed those of Shakespeare in flattery and inflated praise, the "strained touches" of "rhetorick." 

11. Sympathis'd. Implying that Shakespeare's verse came from the heart. Similarly the lines inLucrece which have been compared,
"True sorrow then is feelingly suffic'd
When with like semblance it is sympathis'd."

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