Friday, February 27, 2015

Sonnet CXIII (113)

Since I left you, mine eye is in my mind; 
And that which governs me to go about
Doth part his function, and is partly blind,
Seems seeing, but effectually is out;
For it no form delivers to the heart
Of bird of flower, or shape, which it doth latch:
Of his quick objects hath the mind no part,
Nor his own vision holds what it doth catch;
For if it see the rud'st or gentlest sight,
The most sweet favour or deformed'st creature, 
The mountain or the sea, the day or night, 
The crow, or dove, it shapes them to your feature: 
   Incapable of more, replete with you,    
My most true mind thus maketh mine untrue. 

CXIII. The poet asserts that, even during the period of absence, his heart had been thoroughly with his friend, whom he had seen in everything and everywhere. 

1. Mine eye is in my mind. Cf. xlvii. 7, 8,
"Another time mine eye is my heart's guest,
And in his thoughts of love doth share a part."
2, 3. My bodily eye is partly blind. 

4. Is out. Is out of order. 

6. Latch. Receive and hold. Q. has "lack," a reading apparently impracticable. Cf. Macbeth, Act iv. sc. 3, lines 193-195, "Words that would be howl'd out in the desert air, where hearing should not latch them." 

7. His quick objects. Objects perceived as the eye quickly moves. 

10. The most sweet favour. The sweetest outward appearance. Cf. cxxv. 5. 

14. Mine untrue. A tempting emendation has been suggested "mind untrue." But the sense required would rather seem to be that the mind makes the eyes untrue. It is not easy to suppose that "mine" was originally "m' eyen," equivalent to "my eyes," and pronounced as one syllable. It is perhaps, on the whole, best, even if this view be not quite unobjectionable, to take "untrue" as a substantive, and to take as the meaning that the poet's mind, true to his friend, causes his untruthfulness; causes him to be untruthful to the actual objects around him. So Malone, who quotes Measure for Measure (Act ii. sc. 4, line 170),
"Say what you can, my false outweighs your true."

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