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So I return rebuked to my content, slightest allusion to this supposed injury; And gain by ill thrice more than I have and we shall presently endeavour to show spent.—119.
that they have been wrested from their
proper place. The 29th, 30th, 31st, and That you were once unkind, befriends me now, 32nd are Sonnets of the most confiding And for that sorrow, which I then did feel,
friendship, full of the simplest, and therefore Needs must I under my transgression bow, Unless my nerves were brass or hammer'd hesitation in classing amongst those which
the deepest pathos, and which we have no steel. For if you were by my unkindness shaken,
are strictly personal—those to which the
lines of Wordsworth apply :As I by yours, you have pass’d a hell of time: And I, a tyrant, have no leisure taken
“Scorn not the Sonnet: Critic, you have To weigh how once I suffer'd in your crime.
frown'd O that our night of woe might have re
Mindless of its just honours. With this key member'd
Shakspere unlock'd his heart.” My deepest sense, how hard true sorrow hits, The following exquisite lines are familiar And soon to you, as you to me, then tender'd to most poetical students :The humble salve which wounded bosoms fits!
When in disgrace with fortune and men's But that your trespass now becomes a fee;
eyes, Mine ransoms yours, and yours must ransom
I all alone beweep my outcast state, me.-120.
And trouble deaf Heaven with my bootless
cries, And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope, II.
Featured like him, like him with friends We have thus selected all the Sonnets, or possess'd, stanzas, that appear to have reference to Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope, the subject of love,—whether those which With what I most enjoy contented least; express the light playfulness of affection, the
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, abiding confidence, the distracting doubts,
Haply I think on thee,-and then my state the reproaches for pride or neglect, the fierce
(Like to the lark at break of day arising jealousies, the complaints that another is
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven's
gate; preferred. Much of this may be real, much
For thy sweet love remember'd, such merely dramatic. But it appears to us that
wealth brings, it would have been quite impossible to have
That then I scorn to change my state with maintained that these fragments relate to a
kings.—29. particular incident of the poet's life-the indulgence of an illicit love, with which the When to the sessions of sweet silent thought equally illicit attachment of a youthful
I summon up remembrance of things past, friend interfered-unless there had been a
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought, forced association of the whole series of
And with old woes new wail my dear times'
waste : Sonuets with that youthful friend to whom the first seventeen Sonnets are clearly ad
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow, dressed. Mr. Brown groups the Sonnets from
For precious friends hid in death's dateless
night, the 27th to the 55th as the “Second Poem,"
And weep afresh love's long since cancell'd which he entitles, “To his Friend—who had robbed him of his mistress, forgiving him.'
And moan the expense of many a vanish'd Now, literally, the Sonnets we have already sight. given, the 33rd, 34th, 35th, 40th, 41st, and Then can I grieve at grievances foregone, 42nd, are all that within these limits can be
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er held to have reference to such a subject. The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan, The 27th and 28th Sonnets have not the Which I new pay as if not paid before.
Let me confess that we two must be twain,
But do not so; I love thee in such sort,
But if the while I think on thee, dear
friend, All losses are restored, and sorrowsend.-30. Thy bosom is endeared with all hearts, Which I by lacking have supposed dead; And there reigns love and all love's loving
parts, And all those friends which I thought buried. How many a holy and obsequious tear Hath dear religious love stolen from mine eye, As interest of the dead, which now appear But things removed, that hidden in thee lie? Thou art the grave where buried love doth
Their images I loved I view in thee,
me.-31. If thou survive my well-contented day, When that churl Death my bones with dust
shall cover, And shalt by fortune once more re-survey These poor rude lines of thy deceased lover, Compare them with the bettering of the time; And, they be outstripp'd by every pen, Reserve them for my love, not for their rhyme, Exceeded by the height of happier men. O then vouchsafe me but this loving thought ! Had my friend's muse grown with this
growing age, A dearer birth than this his love had brought, To march in ranks of better equipage :
But since he died, and poets better prove,
love.--32. Immediately succeeding these are the three stanzas we have already quoted, in which the poet is held to accuse his friend of having robbed him of his mistress. In these stanzas the friend is spoken of in connexion with a
sensual fault,” a trespass,” &c. But, in those which follow, the “bewailed guilt: belongs to the poet—the “worth and truth” to his friend. Surely these are not continuous. In the 36th, 37th, 38th, and 39th Sonnets, we have the expression of that deep humility which may be traced through many of these remarkable compositions, and of which we find the first sound in the 29th Sonnet :
As a decrepit father takes delight
Look what is best, that best I wish in thee; This wish I have; then ten times happy
How can my muse want subject to invent, While thou dost breathe, that pour'st into
my verse Thine own sweet argument, too excellent For every vulgar paper to rehearse? 0, give thyself the thanks, if aught in me Worthy perusal stand against thy sight; For who's so dumb that cannot write to thee, When thou thyself dost give invention light? Be thou the tenth muse, ten times more in
worth Than those old nine which rhymers invocate; And he that calls on thee, let him bring forth Eternal numbers to outlive long date. If my elight muse do please these curious
days, The pain be mine, but thine shall be the
praise.-38. O, how thy worth with manners may I sing, When thou art all the better part of me?
For that same groan doth put this in my
mind, My grief lies onward, and my joy behind.
Thus can my love excuse the slow offence
thence ? Till I return, of posting is no need. 0, what excuse will my poor beast then find, When swift extremity can seem but slow? Then should I spur, though mounted on the
wind; In winged speed no motion shall I know: Then can no horse with my desire keep pace; Therefore desire, of perfect love being made, Shall neigh (no dull flesh) in his fiery race; But love, for love, thus shall excuse my jade;
Since from thee going he went wilful slow, Towards thee I 'll run, and give him leare
What can mine own praise to mine own self
bring? And what is 't but mine own, when I praise
thee? Even for this let us divided live, And our dear love lose name of single one, That by this separation I may give That due to thee which thou deservest alone. 0, absence, what a torment wouldst thou
prove, Were it not thy sour leisure gave sweet leave To entertain the time with thoughts of love, (Which time and thoughts so sweetly doth
deceive,) And that thou teachest how to make one
twain, By praising him here, doth hence
remain !-39. The 40th, 41st, and 42nd Sonnets return to the complaint of his friend's faithlessness. Surely, then, the Sonnets we have just quoted must be interpolated. The 43rd is entirely isolated from what precedes and what follows. But in the 39th we have allusions to "separation” and “absence;" and in the 44th we return to the subject of “injurious distance.” With some alterations of arrangement we can group nine Sonnets together, which form a connected epistle to an absent friend, and which convey those sentiments of real affection which can only be adequately transmitted in language and imagery possessing, as these portions do, the charm of nature and simplicity. The tone of truth and reality is remarkably contrasted with those artificial passages which have imparted their character to the whole series in the estimation of many —
How heavy do I journey on the way, When what I seek,-my weary travel's end, Doth teach that case and that repose to say, “ Thus far the miles are measured from thy
friend !” The beast that bears me, tired with my woe, Plods dully on, to bear that weight in me, As if by some instinct the wretch did know His rider loved not speed, being made from
thee : The bloody spur cannot provoke him on That sometimes anger thrusts into his hide, Which heavily he answers with a groan, More sharp to me than spurring to his side;
So am I as the rich, whose blessed key
sure, The which he will not every hour survey, For blunting the fine point of seldom plea
Therefore are feasts so solemn and so rare,
scope, Being had, to triumph, being lack'd, to
Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night, To the clear day with thy much clearer light, Makes black night beauteous, and her old face When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so? new.
How would (I say) mine eyes be blessed made Lo, thus, by day my limbs, by night my By looking on thee in the living day, mind,
When in dead night thy fair imperfect shade For thee, and for myself, no quiet find.- Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth
stay? How can I then return in happy plight,
All days are nights to see, till I see thee, That am debarr'd the benefit of rest?
And nights, bright days, when dreams do When day's oppression is not eased by night,
show thee me.-43. But day by night and night by day oppress'd ?
If the dull substance of my flesh were thought, And each, though enemies to either's reign,
Injurious distance should not stop my way; Do in consent shake hands to torture me,
For then, despite of space, I would be brought The one by toil, the other to complain
From limits far remote, where thou dost stay. How far I toil, still farther off from thee.
No matter then, although my foot did stand I tell the day, to please him, thou art bright,
Upon the farthest carth removed from thee, And dost him grace when clouds do blot the
For nimble thought can jump both sca and heaven :
land, So flatter I the swart-complexion'd night;
As soon as think the place where he would When sparkling stars twire not, thou gild'st
be. the even.
But ah! thought kills me, that I am not But day doth daily draw my sorrows longer,
thought, And night doth nightly make grief's length
To leap large lengths of miles when thou art seem stronger.-28.
gone, Is it thy will thy image should keep open But that, so much of carth and water wrought, My heavy eyelids to the weary night?
I must attend time's leisure with my moan; Dost thou desire my slumbers should be Receiving nought by elements so slow broken,
But heavy tears, badges of cither's woe : While shadows, like to thee, do mock my
The other two, slight air and purging firc, Is it thy spirit that thou send'st from thee
Are both with thee, wherever I abide; So far from home, into my deeds to pry;
The first my thought, the other my desire, To find out shames and idle hours in me,
These present-absent with swift motion slide. The scope and tenor of thy jealousy ?
For when these quicker elements are gone O no! thy love, though much, is not so great;
In tender embassy of love to thee, It is my love that keeps mine eye awake;
My life, being made of four, with two alone, Mine own true love that doth my rest defeat,
Sinks down to death, oppress'd with melanTo play the watchman erer for thy sake:
choly; For thee watch I, whilst thou dost wake
Until life's composition be recured elsewhere
By those swift messengers return'd from thee, From me far off, with others all too near.
Who even but now come back again, assured 61.
Of thy fair health, recounting it to me: When most I wink, then do mine eyes best This told, I joy; but then no longer glad, see,
I send them back again, and straight grow For all the day they view things unrespected:
sad.–45. But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,
The transpositions we have made in the And, darkly bright, arc bright in dark di- arrangement are justified by the considerarected;
tion that in the original text the 50th, 51st, Then thou whose shadow shadows doth make and 52nd Sonnets are entirely isolated; that bright,
the 27th and 28th are also perfectly unconHow would thy shadow's form form happy nected with what precedes and what follows; show
that the 61st stands cqually alone; and that
the 43rd, 44th, and 45th are in a similar po- When as thy love hath cast his utmost sum, sition. We have now a perfect little poem
Call'd to that audit by advised respects; describing the journey—the restless pilgrim- Against that time when thou shalt strangely age of thought-the desire for return.
pass, The thoughts of a temporary separation
And scarcely greet me with that sun, thine lead to the fear that absence may produce
When love, converted from the thing it was, estrangement:
Shall reasons find of settled gravity; How careful was I, when I took my way, Against that time do I ensconce me here Each trifle under truest bars to thrust,
Within the knowledge of mine own desert, That, to my use, it might unused stay
And this my hand against myself uprear, From hands of falsehood, in sure wards of To guard the lawful reasons on thy part : trust!
To leave poor me thou hast the strength But thou, to whom my jewels trifles are,
of laws, Most worthy comfort, now my greatest grief, Since, why to love, I can allege no cause. Thou, best of dearest, and mine only care,
-49. Art left the prey of every vulgar thief. Thee have I not lock'd up in any chest,
This Sonnet is also completely isolated ; Save where thou art not, though I feel thou but much further on, according to the art,
original arrangement, we find the idea here Within the gentle closure of my breast, conveyed of that self-sacrificing humility From whence at pleasure thou mayst come which will endure unkindness without comand part;
plaint, worked out with exquisite tenderAnd even thence thou wilt be stolen I fear,
ness :For truth proves thievish for a prize so dear.
--48. When thon shalt be disposed to set me light, The sentiment is somewhat differently re
And place my merit in the eye of Scorn, peated in a Sonnet which is entirely isolated
Upon thy side against myself I 'll fight, in the place where it stands in the original:
And prove thee virtuous, though thou art
forsworn. So are you to my thoughts, as food to life,
With mine own weakness being best acOr as sweet-season'd showers are to the ground;
quainted, And for the peace of you I hold such strife
Upon thy part I can set down a story As 'twixt a miser and his wealth is found :
Of faults conceald, wherein I am attainted; Now proud as an enjoyer, and anon
That thou, in losing me, shalt win much glory: Doubting the filching age will steal his trea
And I by this will be a gainer too; sure;
For bending all my loving thoughts on thee, Now counting best to be with you alone,
The injuries that to myself I do, Then better'd that the world may see my
Doing thee vantage, double-vantage me. pleasure :
Such is my love, to thee I so belong, Sometime, all full with feasting on your sight,
That for thy right myself will bear all And by and by clean starved for a look;
wrong:-88. Possessing or pursuing no delight, Save what is had or must from you be took Say that thou didst forsake me for some fault,
Thus do I pine and surfeit day by day, And I will comment upon that offence :
Speak of my lameness, and I straight will But the 49th Sonnet carries forward the
Against thy reasons making no defence. dread expressed in the 48th that his friend
Thou canst not, love, disgrace me half so ill, will "be stolen," into the apprehension that
To set a form upon desired change, coldness, and neglect, and desertion may one
As I 'll myself disgrace: knowing thy will, day ensue:
I will acquaintance strangle, and look strange; Against that time, if ever that time come, Be absent from thy walks; and in my tongue When I shall see thee frown on my defects, Thy sweet-beloved name no more shall dwell;