Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sonnet CVII (107)

Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul 
Of the wide world, dreaming on things to come,
Can yet the lease of my true love control, 
Suppos'd as forfeit to a confin'd doom. 
The mortal moon hath her eclipse endur'd, 
And the sad augurs mock their own presage; 
Incertainties now crown themselves assur'd, 
And peace proclaims olives of endless age. 
Now with the drops of this most balmy time 
My love looks fresh, and Death to me subscribes,
Since, spite of him, I'll live in this poor rhyme, 
While he insults o'er dull and speechless tribes: 
And thou in this shalt find thy monument, 
When tyrants' crests and tombs of brass are spent. 

l, 2. The prophetic soul of the wide world, dreaming on things to come. With this passage, which is very important in relation to Shakespeare's theology, cf. Richard III., Act ii. sc. 3, lines 41-44,

"Before the days of change still is it so;
By a divine instinct men's minds mistrust
Ensuing danger, as by proof we see
The water swell before a boisterous storm."

Brierre de Boismont says, in his work Des Hallucinations, ed. 1862, p. 43, "Il existe dans les masses populaires un instinct politique qui leur fait pressentir les catastrophes des societes, comme un instinct naturel annonce d'avance aux animaux l'approche des bouleversements physiques." 
5. The mortal moon. Taken by Massey and Minto, and with probable correctness, as denoting Queen Elizabeth; but the eclipse cannot be the Queen's death. The emphasis evidently lies on the word "endur'd," and it would rather seem, as pointed out by Dowden, that the moon has passed through her eclipse, and is again shining. With better reason, therefore, the reference may be supposed to be to the Rebellion of Essex. 

6. The sad augurs will thus be those who had predicted the success of this attempt. 

8. Of endless age. With reference to the future. 

9. This most balmy time. Written probably on a mild spring or early summer day, with genial showers. 

12. Dull and speechless tribes. That is, of the common dead. 

14. Crests. Engraved on monumental tablets.

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