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Who will believe my verse in time to come,
If I could write the beauty of your eyes,
And in fresh numbers number all your graces,
Such heavenly touches ne'er touch'd earthly faces.
But were some child of yours alive that time,
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
3 To give away yourself, keeps yourself still;] To produce likenesses of yourself, (that is, children,) will be the means of preserving your memory. MALONE.
4 Rough WINDS do SHAKE the darling BUDS of May,] So, in
"And like the tyrannous breathing of the north,
Again, in The Taming of the Shrew:
"Confounds thy fame, as whirlwinds shake fair buds."
5 Sometime too hot the EYE OF HEAVEN -] That is, the sun.
So, in Romeo and Juliet:
"Now, ere the sun advance his burning eye—.”
Again, in King Richard II.:
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest' ;
Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion's paws,
For beauty's pattern to succeeding men.
when the searching eye of heaven is hid
Again, in The Rape of Lucrece:
"The eye of heaven is out.”
untrimm'd;] i. e. divested of ornament. So, in King
66 a new untrimmed bride." STEEVENS.
7 Nor lose possession of that FAIR thou oWEST;] Of that beauty thou possessest. Fair was, in our author's time, used as a substantive. See p. 238, and the first line of the present page. To owe in old language is to possess. MALONE.
8 And BURN the long-liv'd phoenix IN HER BLOOD;] So, in Coriolanus:
"Your temples burned in their cement."
The meaning of neither phrase is very obvious; however, "burned in her blood," may signify burnt alive; ' and "burned in their cement," burnt while they were standing.' STEEVENS.
Yet, do thy worst, old Time: despite thy wrong,
A woman's face, with nature's own hand painted,
A man in hue all hues in his controlling ' Which steals men's eyes, and women's souls amazeth.
the MASTER-MISTRESS of my passion ;] It is impossible to read this fulsome panegyrick, addressed to a male object, without an equal mixture of disgust and indignation. We may remark also, that the same phrase employed by Shakspeare to denote the height of encomium, is used by Dryden to express the extreme of reproach:
"That woman, but more daub'd; or, if a man,
Let me be just, however, to our author, who has made a proper use of the term male varlet, in Troilus and Cressida. See that play, Act V. Sc. I. STEEVENS.
Some part of this indignation might perhaps have been abated, if it had been considered that such addresses to men, however indelicate, were customary in our author's time, and neither imported criminality, nor were esteemed indecorous. See a note on the words" thy deceased lover," in the 32d Sonnet. To regulate our judgment of Shakspeare's poems by the modes of modern times, is surely as unreasonable as to try his plays by the rules of Aristotle.
Master-mistress does not perhaps mean man-mistress, but sovereign mistress. See Mr. Tyrwhitt's note on the 165th verse of the Canterbury Tales, vol. iv. p. 197. MALONE.
9 AN EYE more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
GILDING the object whereupon it gazeth ;] So, in The Merry Wives of Windsor: "I have writ me here a letter to her; and here another to Page's wife; who even now gave me good eyes too, examined my parts with most gracious eyeliads; sometimes the beam of her view gilded my foot, sometimes my portly belly,"
And for a woman wert thou first created;
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
But since she prick'd thee out for women's pleasure *;
Mine be thy love, and thy love's use their treasure.
So is it not with me, as with that muse
With sun and moon, with earth and sea's rich gems,
1 A man in HUE all HUES in his controlling,] This line is thus exhibited in the old copy:
"A man in hew all Hews in his controlling."
Hews was the old mode of spelling hues (colours), and also Hughes, the proper name. See the printer's dedication of these sonnets to W. H. MALONE.
2 Which steals men's eyes,] So, in Pericles Prince of Tyre, 1609:
"That excellent complexion, which did steal
"The eyes of young and old." MALONE.
3 And for a woman wert thou first created;
Till nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting, &c.] There is an odd coincidence between these lines and a well-known modern epigram:
Whilst nature Hervey's clay was blending,
"A pin dropp'd in, and turn'd the scale." MALONE.
4 But since she PRICK'D thee out, &c.] To prick is to nominate by a puncture or mark. So, in Julius Cæsar:
"These many then shall die, their names are prick'd." Again, in King Henry IV. Part II.:
"Shall I prick him, Sir John?"—I have given a wrong explanation of this phrase elsewhere. STEEVENS.
5 Making a COUPLEMENT] That is, an union. So, in Love's
With April's first-born flowers, and all things rare
My glass shall not persuade me I am old,
Labour's Lost: "I wish you the peace of mind, most royal couple
I formerly thought this word was of our author's invention, but I have lately found it in Spenser's Faery Queene: "Allide with bands of mutual couplement." 6 That heaven's air in this huge RONDURE hems.] round. Rondeur, Fr. The word is again used by King Henry V.:
MALONE. Rondure is a our author in
"Tis not the roundure of your old-fac'd walls." MALone. 7 As those GOLD CANDLES fix'd in heaven's air :] That is, the So, in Romeo and Juliet:
Night's candles are burnt out.”
Again, in Macbeth:
There's husbandry in heaven;
"Their candles are all out."
So also in the Merchant of Venice:
"For by these blessed candles of the night."
those gold candles fix'd in heaven's air." So, in the old copies of Pericles:
"the air-remaining lamps." STEEVENS.
8 I will not PRAISE, that purpose not to SELL.] So, in Love's Labour's Lost:
"To things of sale a seller's praise belongs." STEEvens. Again, in Troilus and Cressida :
66 'We'll not commend what we intend to sell."
Where Dr. Warburton with some probability conjectures that Shakspeare wrote,
66 what we intend not sell." MALONE.