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6. "Determination in legal language means end.”— MALONE.
9-13. The same thought of thriftless waste which appears in Sonnets I., IV.
14. You had a father. Compare All's Well that Ends Well, Act I. sc. 1, ll. 19, 20, “This young gentlewoman had a father, 0, that had!' how sad a passage 'tis!" The father of Shakspere's friend was probably dead. Shakspere looks forward to the time when his friend also shall be dead (1. 12), and wishes that a son may then be living to say, as Shakspere's friend says now, “I had a father."
XIV. In XIII. Shakspere predicts stormy winter (the "seasons' quality" of xiv. 4) and the cold of death; he now explains what his astrology is, and at the close of the sonnet repeats his melancholy prediction.
1, 2. So Sidney, Arcadia, Book III. "O sweet Philoclea, thy heavenly face is my astronomy." Astrophel
and Stella (ed. 1591), Sonnet XXVI. :
Though dusty wits dare scorn astrology
[I] oft forejudge my after-following race
So Daniel, Delia, Sonnet xxx. (on Delia's eyes) :—
Stars are they sure, whose motions rule desires;
6. Pointing. "Write 'Pointing, i.e., appointing; or at
least so understand the word. Tarquin and Lucrece, Stanza CXXVI. :—
Whoever plots the sin, thou [Opportunity] point'st the season."-W. S. WALKER.
8. Oft predict, frequent prognostication. Sewell (ed. 2) reads "By aught predict," i.e., by anything predicted. 9, 10. Compare Love's Labour's Lost, Act IV. sc. 3, 11. 350-353:
From women's eyes this doctrine I derive :
That show, contain, and nourish all the world.
10-14. I introduce the inverted commas before truth after convert, before Thy and after date.
10. Read such art, gather by reading such truths of science as the following.
12. Store. See note on XI. 9.
Convert, rhyming here with "art;" so in Daniel, Delia, Sonnet XI., "convert" rhymes with "heart."
XV. Introduces Verse as an antagonist of Time. The stars in XIV., determining weather, plagues, dearths, and fortune of princes, reappear in xv. 4, commenting in secret influence on the shows of this world.
3. Stage. Malone reads state. But the word present like show is theatrical, and confirms the text of the Quarto. Compare Antony and Cleopatra, Act III. sc. 13, 11. 2931:
Yes, like enough, high-battled Cæsar will
Unstate his happiness, and be staged to the show,
4. Conceit, conception, imagination.
11. Debateth with Decay, holds a discussion with Decay, or combats along with Decay. Debate is used frequently by Shakspere in each of these senses.
XVI. The gardening image "engraft," in xv. 14, suggests the thought of "maiden gardens" and "living flowers" of this sonnet.
7. Bear your living flowers; "bear you," Lintott, Gildon, Malone, and others; but " your living flowers" stands over against "your painted counterfeit."
8. Counterfeit, portrait. Timon of Athens, Act v. sc. 1, 11. 83, 84 (to the Painter), "Thou draw'st a counterfeit best in all Athens."
9. Lines of life, i.e., children. The unusual expression is selected because it suits the imagery of the sonnet, lines applying to (1) Lineage, (2) delineation with a pencil, a portrait, (3) lines of verse as in XVIII. 12. Lines of life are living lines, living poems and pictures, children.
10. This, Time's pencil. The Quarto reads "this (Times pensel or my pupill pen)." G. Massey conjectures "this time's pencil," adding:-" What Shakspeare says is, that the best painter, the master-pencil of the time, or his own pen of a learner, will alike fail to draw the Earl's lines of life as he himself can do it, by his own sweet skill. This pencil of the time may have been Mirevelt's; he
painted the Earl [of Southampton's] portrait in early manhood.”—Shakspere's Sonnets and his Private Friends, pp. 115, 116 (note). Prof. Stengel proposes "With this, Time's pencil, for my pupil pen," etc. Are we to understand the line as meaning "Which this pencil of Time or this my pupil pen?" and is Time here conceived as a limner who has painted the youth so fair, but whose work cannot last for future generations? In XIX. "Devouring Time" is transformed into a scribe; may not "tyrant Time" be transformed here into a painter? In xx. it is Nature who paints the face of the beautiful youth. This masterpiece of twenty years can endure neither as painted by Time's pencil, nor as represented by Shakspere's unskilful, pupil pen. Is the "painted counterfeit" of 1. 8 Shakspere's portrayal in his verse? Compare LIII. 1. 5.
11. Fair, beauty.
XVII. In XVI. Shakspere has said that his "pupil pen cannot make his friend live to future ages. He now carries on this thought; his verse, although not showing half his friend's excellences, will not be believed in times to come.
12. Keats prefixed this line as motto to his Endymion; "stretched metre means overstrained poetry.
13, 14. If a child were alive his beauty would verify the descriptions in Shakspere's verse, and so the friend would possess a twofold life, in his child and in his poet's rhyme.
XVIII. Shakspere takes heart, expects immortality for his verse, and so immortality for his friend as surviving
in it. He therefore gives expression fearlessly to the "poet's rage."
3. May, a summer month; we must remember that May in Shakspere's time ran on to within a few days of our mid June. Compare Cymbeline, Act I. sc. 3, 1. 36:
And like the tyrannous breathing of the north
5. Eye of heaven. So King Richard II., Act III. sc. 2, 1. 37, "the searching eye of heaven."
10. That fair thou owest, that beauty thou possessest. 11, 12. This anticipation of immortality for their verse was a commonplace with the Sonnet-writers of the time of Elizabeth. See Spenser, Amoretti, Sonnets 27, 69, 75; Drayton, Idea, Sonnets 6, 44; Daniel, Delia, Sonnet 39.
XIX. Shakspere, confident of the immortality of his friend in verse, defies Time.
1. Devouring Time. So Love's Labour's Lost, Act I. sc. 1, 1. 4, "Cormorant devouring Time." S. Walker conjectures destroying.
5. Fleets. The Quarto has fleet'st. I follow Dyce, believing that Shakspere cared more for his rhyme than his grammar, at a time when grammatical freedom was great. Compare confounds, Sonnet VIII. 7.
XX. A flight of praise; his friend the ideal of human beauty," beauty's pattern" (XIX. 12), and as such owning the attributes of male and female beauty.