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in many instances they might shadow forth | cellence at which they aimed consisted in real feelings, and be outpourings of the in- the exquisite polish of the diction, commost heart, were presented to the world as bined with perfect simplicity.”* This, we exercises of fancy, and were received by the apprehend, is the characteristic excellence of world as such. The most usual form which Shakspere's Sonnets; displaying, to the caresuch compositions assumed was that of love- ful reader “the studied position of words

Spenser's “ Amoretti’ are entirely and phrases, so that not only each part of this character, as their name implies; should be melodious in itself, but contribute Daniel's, which are fifty-seven in number, to the harmony of the whole.” He sought are all addressed “To Delia ;” Drayton's, for a canvas in which this elaborate colourwhich he calls “ Ideas,” are somewhat more ing, this skilful management of light and miscellaneous in their character. These were shade, might be attempted, in an address to the three great poets of Shakspere's days. a young man, instead of a scornful Delia or Spenser’s ‘Amoretti’ was first printed in 1595; a proud Daphne; and he commenced with Daniel's Delia' in 1592; Drayton's 'Ideas' an exhortation to that young man to marry. in 1594. In 1593 was also published ‘Licia, To allow of that energy of language which or Poems of Love, in honour of the admirable would result from the assumption of strong and singular virtues of his Lady.' This book feeling, THE POET links himself with the contains fifty-two Sonnets, all conceived in young man's happiness by the strongest the language of passionate affection and expressions of friendship—in the common extravagant praise. And yet the author, language of that day, love. We say, adin his Address to the Reader, says—“If visedly, the poet; for it is in this character thou muse what my Licia is, take her to that the connexion between the two friends be some Diana, at the least chaste, or some is preserved throughout; and it is in this Minerva, no Venus, fairer far. It may be character that the personal beauty of the she is Lea g's image, or some heavenly young man is made a constantly recurring wonder, which the precisest may not mislike: theme. With these imperfect observations, perhaps under that name I have shadowed we present the continuous poem which apDiscipline.” This fashion of Sonnet-writing pears in the first nineteen Sonnets:upon a continuous subject prevailed, thus,

From fairest creatures we desire increase, about the period of the publication of the · Venus and Adonis' and the 'Lucrece,'

That thereby beauty's rose might never die, when Shakspere had taken his rank amongst

But as the riper should by time decease,

His tender heir might bear his memory: the poets of his time-independent of his

But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes, dramatic rank. He chose a new subject for

Feed'st thy light's fame with self-substantial a series of Sonnets ; he addressed them to

fuel, some youth, some imaginary person, as we

Making a famine where abundance lies, conceive; he made this fiction the vehicle

Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel. for stringing together a succession of brilliant

Thou that art now the world's fresh ornament, images, exhausting every artifice of language

And only herald to the gaudy spring, to present one idea under a thousand different

Within thine own bud buriest thy content, forms

And, tender churl, mak'st waste in niggarding. “ varying to other words ;

Pity the world, or else this glutton be, And in this change is my invention spent.” To eat the world's due, by the grave and Coleridge, with his usual critical discri

thee.-1. mination, speaking of the Italian poets of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and

When forty winters shall besiege thy brow, glancing also at our own of the same period,

And dig deep trenches in thy beauty's field, “In opposition to the present age, and

Thy youth's proud livery, so gaz'd on now, says, perbaps in as faulty an extreme, they placed

Will be a tatter'd weed, of small worth held : the essence of poetry in the art.

* Biographia Literaria,' vol. ii. p. 27.

The ex

Then being ask'd where all thy beauty lies,
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days;
To say, within thine own deep sunken eyes,
Were an all-eating shame, and thriftless praise.
How much more praise deserv'd thy beauty's


If thou couldst answer—" This fair child of

mine Shall sum my count, and make my old ex

For never-resting time leads summer on
To hideous winter, and confounds him there :
Sap check'd with frost, and lusty leaves quite

Beauty o'ersnow'd, and bareness everywhere :
Then, were not summer's distillation left,
A liquid prisoner pent in walls of glass,
Beauty's effect with beauty were bereft,
Nor it, nor no remembrance what it was.
But flowers distillid, though they with

winter meet, Leese but their show; their substance still

lives sweet.-5.


Proving his beauty by succession thine!
This were to be new-made when thou art

old, And see thy blood warm when thou feel'st

it cold.-2.

Look in thy glass, and tell the face thou

viewest, Now is the time that face should form another; Whose fresh repair if now thou not renewest, Thou dost beguile the world, unbless some

mother. For where is she so fair, whose unear'd womb Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry? Or who is he so fond will be the tomb Of his self-love, to stop posterity ? Thou art thy mother's glass, and she in thee Calls back the love April of her prime: So thou through windows of thine age shalt

Then let not winter's ragged hand deface
In thee thy summer, ere thou be distillid :
Make sweet some phial; treasure thou some

With beauty's treasure, ere it be self-kill'd.
That use is not forbidden usury,
Which happies those that pay the willing loan;
That's for thyself to breed another thee,
Or ten times happier, be it ten for one;
Ten times thyself were happier than thou art,
If ten of thine ten times refigur'd thee :
Then, what could Death do if thou shouldst

depart, Leaving the living in posterity?

Be not self-wili'd for thou art much too fair To be Death's conquest, and make worms

thine heir.-6.


Despite of wrinkles, this thy golden time.

But, if thou live remember'd not to be,
Die single, and thine image dies with thee.

Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend
Upon thyself thy beauty's legacy?
Nature's bequest gives nothing, but doth lend,
And, being frank, she lends to those are free.
Then, beauteous niggard, why dost thou abuse
The bounteous largess given thee to give ?
Profitless usurer, why dost thou use
So great a sum of sums, yet canst not live ?
For having traffic with thyself alone,
Thou of thyself thy sweet self dost deceive.
Then how, when nature calls thee to be gone,
What acceptable audit canst thou leave ?
Thy unus'd beauty must be tomb'd with

Lo, in the orient when the gracious light
Lifts up his burning head, each under eye
Doth homage to his new-appearing sight,
Serving with looks his sacred majesty:
And having climb'd the steep-up heavenly

Resembling strong youth in his middle age,
Yet mortal looks adore his beauty still,
Attending on his golden pilgrimage ;
But when from high-most pitch, with weary

Like feeble age, he reeleth from the day,
The eyes, 'fore duteous, now converted are
From his low tract, and look another way:

So thou, thyself outgoing in thy noon,
Unlook'd on diest, unless thou get a son.--7.

thee, Which, used, lives thy executor to be.—4.

Those hours, that with gentle work did frame
The lovely gaze where every eye doth dwell,
Will play the tyrants to the very same,
And that unfair which fairly doth excel ;

Music to hear, why hear'st thou music sadly? Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy, Why lov'st thou that which thou receiv'st not

gladly? Or else receiv'st with pleasure thine annoy?

If the true concord of well-tuned sounds,
By unions married, do offend thine ear,
They do but sweetly chide thee, who confounds
In singleness the parts that thou shouldst bear.
Mark how one string, sweet husband to

Strikes each in each by mutual ordering;
Resembling sire and child and happy mother,
Who all in one, one pleasing note do sing :
Whose speechless song, being many, seem-

ing one, Sings this to thee, " Thou single wilt prove



Is it for fear to wet a widow's eye,
That thou consum'st thyself in single life?
Ah! if thou issueless shalt hap to die,
The world will wail thee, like a makeless wife:
The world will be thy widow, and still weep,
That thou no form of thee hast left behind,
When every private widow well may keep,
By children's eyes, her husband's shape in

mind. Look, what an unthrift in the world doth

spend, Shifts but his place, for still the world enjoys

it: But beauty's waste hath in the world an end, And kept unus'd, the user so destroys it.

No love toward others in that bosom sits, That on himself such murderous shame


And that fresh blood which youngly thou

bestow'st, Thou mayst call thine, when thou from youth

convertest. Herein lives wisdom, beauty, and increase ; Without this, folly, age, and cold decay: If all were minded so, the times should cease, And threescore years would make the world

away. Let those whom Nature hath not made for

store, Harsh, featureless, and rude, barrenly perish : Look, whom she best endow'd, she gave thee

more; Which bounteous gift thou shouldst in bounty

cherish : She carv'd thee for her seal, and meant

thereby Thou shouldst print more, nor let that copy

For shame! deny that thou bear’st love to any
Who for thyself art so unprovident.
Grant, if thou wilt, thou art belov'd of many,
But that thou none lov'st is most evident;
For thou art so possess’d with murderous hate,
That 'gainst thyself thou stick’st not to con-

spire ;
Seeking that beauteous roof to ruinate,
Which to repair should be thy chief desire.
O change thy thought, that I may change my

Shall hate be fairer lodg'd than gentle love?
Be as thy presence is, gracious and kind,
Or to thyself, at least, kind-hearted prove;

Make thee another self, for love of me,
That beauty still may live in thine or


As fast as thou shalt wane, so fast thou grow'st In one of thine, from that which thou de

When I do count the clock that tells the time,
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;
When I behold the violet past prime,
And sable curls, all silver'd o'er with white;
When lofty trees I see barren of leaves,
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
And summer's green all girded up in sheaves,
Borne on the bier with white and bristly

Then of thy beauty do I question make,
That thou among the wastes of time must go,
Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake,
And die as fast as they see others grow;
And nothing 'gainst Time's scythe can make

Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee

O that you were yourself! but, love, you are
No longer yours than you yourself here live :
Against this coming end you should prepare,
And your sweet semblance to some other give.
So should that beauty which you hold in lease
Find no determination : then you were
Yourself again, after yourself's decease,
When your sweet issue your sweet form should

Who lets so fair a house fall to decay,
Which husbandry in honour might uphold
Against the stormy gusts of winter's day,
And barren rage of death's eternal cold ?
0! none but unthrifts :-Dear my love, you

know You had a father; let your son say so.—13.


Not from the stars do I my judgment pluck;
And yet methinks I have astronomy,
But not to tell of good or evil luck,
Of plagues, of dearths, or season's quality:
Nor can I fortune to brief minutes tell,
Pointing to each his thunder, rain, and wind,
Or say, with princes if it shall go well,
By oft predict that I in heaven find :
But from thine eyes my knowledge I derive,
And (constant stars) in them I read such art,
As truth and beauty shall together thrive,
If from thyself to store thou wouldst convert :

Or else of thee this I prognosticate,
Thy end is truth's and beauty's doom and


When I coi der everything that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment,
That this huge state presenteth nought but

shows Whereon the stars in secret in uence com

ment; When I perceive that men as plants increase, Cheer'd and check'd ever by the selfsame sky; Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease, And wear their brave state out of memory; Then the conceit of this inconstant stay Sets you most rich in youth before my sight, Where wasteful time debateth with decay, To change your day of youth to sullied night;

And all in war with time, for love of you, As he takes from you, I engraft you new.


Though yet Heaven knows it is but as a tomb Which hides your life, and shows not half

your parts. If I could write the beauty of your eyes, And in fresh numbers number all your graces, The age to come would say, This poet lies, Such heavenly touches ne'er touch'd earthly

faces. So should my papers, yellowd with their age, Be scorn'd, like old men of less truth than

tongue; And your true rights be term'd a poet's rage, And stretched metre of an antique song: But were some child of yours alive that

time, You should live twice ;-in it, and in my

rhyme.-17. Shall I compare thee to a summer's day! Thou art more lovely and more temperate: Rough winds do shake the darling buds of

May, And summer's lease hath all too short a date: Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, And often is his gold complexion dimm'd; And every fair from fair sometime declines, By chance, or nature's changing course, un

trimm'd; But thy eternal summer shall not fade, Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest: Nor shall Death brag thou wanderst in his

shade, When in eternal lines to time thou growest :

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to


But wherefore do not you a mightier way
Make war upon this bloody tyrant, Time?
And fortify yourself in your decay
With means more blessed than my barren

rhyme ?
Now stand you on the top of happy hours;
And many maiden gardens, yet unset,
With virtuous wish would bear you living

flowers, Much liker than your painted counterfeit: So should the lines of life that life repair, Which this, Time's pencil, or my pupil pen, Neither in inward worth, nor outward fair, Can make you live yourself in eyes of men.

To give away yourself, keeps yourself still; And you must live, drawn by your own

sweet skill.-16.

Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion's paws, And make the earth devour her own sweet

brood; Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger's

jaws, And burn the long-liv'd phenix in her blood; Make glad and sorry seasons, as thou fleets, And do whate'er thou wilt, swift-footed Time, To the wide world, and all her fading sweets; But I forbid thee one most heinous crime: O carve not with thy hours my love's fair brow, Nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen; Him in thy course untainted do allow, For beauty's pattern to succeeding men. Yet, do thy worst, old Time: despite thy

wrong, My love shall in my verse ever live young.


Who will believe my verse in time to come, If it were fill'd with your most high deserts ?

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That this series of Sonnets, powerful as A man in hue, all hues in his controlling, they are, displaying not only the most Which steals men's eyes, and women's souls abundant variety of imagery, but the greatest amazeth. felicity in making the whole harmonious, And for a woman wert thou first created ; constitutes a poem ambitious only of the

Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a honours of a work of Art, is, we think,

doting, manifest. If it had been addressed to a real

And by addition me of thee defeated,

By adding one thing to my purpose nothing. person, no other object could have been pro

But since she prick'd thee out for women's posed than a display of the most brilliant

pleasure, ingenuity. In the next age it would have

Mine be thy love, and thy love's use their been called an exquisite “copy of verses.”

treasure.-20. But in the next age, probably—certainly in our own—the author would have been pro- What is mour substance, whereof are you nounced arrogant beyond measure in the an- made, ticipation of the immortality of his rhymes. That millions of strange shadows on you There is a show of modesty, indeed, in the tend? expressions “barren rhyme” and “pupil Since every one hath, every one, one's shade, pen;" but that is speedily cast off, and And you, but one, can every shadow lend. “eternal summer” is promised through Describe Adonis, and the counterfeit “eternal lines ;" and

Is poorly imitated after you;

On Helen's cheek all art of beauty set, “So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,

And you in Grecian tires are painted new : So long lives this, and this gives life to thee."

Speak of the spring and foizon of the year; Regarding these nineteen Sonnets as a con

The one doth shadow of your beauty show,

The other as your bounty doth appear, tinuous poem, wound up to the climax of a

And you in every blessed shape we know. hyperbolical promise of immortality to the

In all external grace you have some part, object whom it addresses, we receive the 20th

But you like none, none you, for constant Sonnet as the commencement of another

heart.-53. poem in which the same idea is retained. The poet is bound to the youth by ties of Between the 20th Sonnet and the 53rd ocstrong affection ; but nature has called upon cur, as it appears to us, a number of fragthe possessor of that beauty

ments which we have variously classified.

and which seem to have no relation to the “Which steals men's eyes, and women's souls amazeth,"

praises of that “unknown youth ” who has

been supposed to preside over five-sixths of to cultivate closer ties. This Sonnet, through the entire series of verses. We have little an utter misconception of the language of doubt that the “begetter" of the Sonnets Shakspere's time, has produced a comment was not able to beget, or obtain, all; and sufficiently odious to throw an unpleasant that there is a considerable hiatus between shade over much which follows. The idea the 20th Sonnet and the second hyperbolical which it contains is continued in the 53rd close, which he filled up as well as he could, Sonnet; and we give the two in connexion :- from other “sugared sonnets amongst pri

vate friends :"A woman's face, with nature's own hand painted,

O how much more doth beauty beauteous Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion ;

seem, A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted By that sweet ornament which truth doth With shifting change, as is false women's give! fashion ;

The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem An eye more bright than theirs, less false in For that sweet odour which doth in it live. rolling,

The canker-blooms have full as deep a dye Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth; As the perfumed tincture of the roses,

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