Your love and pity doth the impression fill
Which vulgar scandal stamp'd upon my brow;
For what care I who calls me well or ill,
So you o'er-green my bad, my good allow?
You are my all-the-world, and I must strive
To know my shames and praises from your tongue:
None else to me, nor I to none alive,
That my steel'd sense or changes right or wrong.
In so profound abysm I throw all care
Of others' voices, that my adder's sense
To critic and to flatterer stopped are.
Mark how with my neglect I do dispense:
You are so strongly in my purpose bred,That all the world besides, methinks y' are dead.
CXII. The request which the poet had made for his friend's pity is supposed to have been complied with. Satisfied in this respect, he strongly asserts that he cares nothing what others may think or say concerning him.
1, 2. Showing how deeply the poet felt the scandal: it was as if he had been branded on the forehead.
4. O'er-green my bad. Extenuate what is evil, kindly screening it as with leaves.
6. To recognise you as the only judge of my conduct.
8. Steel'd. Hardened. Or changes, right or wrong. "Either to what is right, or to what is wrong." Steevens.
10. My adder's sense. Alluding to the adder's alleged deafness.
13. Bred may be taken as implying incorporation; and thus the sense may be given, "My view of my own conduct is so thoroughly identified with your judgment; and my future course of action depends so exclusively on you."
14. The poet turns and addresses the world. Cf. civ. 13, 14. Y' are is equivalent to "you are."