Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sonnet C (100)

Where art thou, Muse, that thou forget'st so long

To speak of that which gives thee all thy might?
Spend'st thou thy fury on some worthless song,
Darkening thy power to lend base subjects light?
Return, forgetful Muse, and straight redeem
In gentle numbers time so idly spent;
Sing to the ear that doth thy lays esteem
And gives thy pen both skill and argument.
Rise, restive Muse, my love's sweet face survey,
If Time have any wrinkle graven there;
If any, be a satire to decay,
And make Time's spoils despised every where.
   Give my love fame faster than Time wastes life;
   So thou prevent'st his scythe and crooked knife.

C. There was probably an interval of some months between this and the last Sonnet; and very likely there had been no personal interview between the poet and his friend for a still longer period (lines 9, 10). The poet now calls upon his Muse to resume her strains, and, in defiance of Time, to celebrate the fame of his friend. 

2. Gives thee all thy might. Cf. lxxviii. 13. "Skill and argument" (line 8), that is both subject and skill to describe and celebrate. 

3. Thy fury. Cf. Midsummer Night's Dream, Act v. sc. i, lines 12, 13,

"The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven," &c.

4. Darkening thy power. Through the unworthiness of the subjects. There may be, as has been thought, allusion to dramas on which Shakespeare had been at work. But of course, if this is so, the language here used is that of compliment. 

9. Restive. Q. "resty." "Restive" may be taken here as equivalent to "uneasy," "in aimless motion," "wandering." Cf. "truant Muse," in the next Sonnet. Shakespeare's Muse had not been at rest, lines 3, 4. 

11. Be a satire to decay. Cause decay to be disregarded and contemned, by conferring eternal fame. 

14. Anticipating his agency, and rendering it abortive. Time is here equipped with both scythe and sickle.

No comments:

Post a Comment