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The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem
For that sweet odour which doth in it live.
The canker-blooms have full as deep a dye,
As the perfumed tincture of the roses 4;
Hang on such thorns, and play as wantonly
When summer's breath their masked buds dis-
closes 5;

But, for their virtue 6 only is their show, They live unwoo'd, and unrespected fade;Die to themselves; Sweet roses do not so;Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odours made7:
And so of you, beauteous and lovely youth,
When that shall fade, my verse distills your
truth 8.

* The Canker-blooms have full as deep a dye, As the perfumed tincture of the Roses ;] The canker is the canker-rose or dog-rose. The rose and the canker are opposed in like manner in Much Ado About Nothing: "I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in his grace." Malone.

Shakspeare had not yet begun to observe the productions of nature with accuracy, or his eyes would have convinced him that the cynorhodon is by no means of as deep a colour as the rose. But what has truth or nature to do with Sonnets? Steevens.

s When summer's breath their Masked Buds Discloses :] So, in Hamlet:

"The chariest maid is prodigal enough, "If she unmask her beauty to the moon:"Virtue itself scapes not calumnious strokes:"The canker galls the infants of the spring, "Too oft before their buttons be disclosed." Malone. 6 But, For their virtue—] For has here the signification of because. So, in Othello:

"haply for I am black." Malone.

1 Sweet Roses do not so;Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odours made:] The same image occurs in a Midsummer-Night's Dream:

"— earthlier happy is the rose distill'd,

"Than that, which, withering on the virgin thorn,"Grows, lives, and dies, in single blessedness."

r Malone. 8My verse distills your truth.] The old copy reads, I think, corruptedly:—by verse distills vour truth. Malone.


Not marble, nor the gilded monuments 9
Of princes, shall out-live this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone, besmear'd with sluttish time *.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war's quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory 2.
'Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room
Even in the eyes of all posterity,
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So, till the judgment that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lovers' eyes.


Sweet love, renew thy force; be it not said,
Thy edge should blunter be than appetite;
Which but to-day by feeding is allay'd, To-morrow sharpen'd in his former might:
So, love, be thou; although to-day thou fill
Thy hungry eyes, even till they wink with fulness,
To-morrow see again, and do not kill
The spirit of love with a perpetual dulness.

9 Not marble, nor the gilded monuments, &c.] Exegi monumentum aere perennius, Regalique situ pyramidum altius. Hor. This Sonnet furnishes a very strong confirmation of my interpretation of the words, "— a paper epitaph," in King Henry V. See vol. xvii. p. 283, n. 2. Malone.

J 1 Than Unswept Stone, besmear'd with sluttish time.] So, in All's Well That Ends Well:

"Where dust, and damn'd oblivion, is the tomb"Of honour'd bones indeed." Malone. * When wasteful war shall statues overturn, &c.]

Jamque opus exegi, quod nec Jovis ira nec ignes,
Nec poterit ferrum, nec edax abolere vetustas.

Ovid. Malone.

Let this sad interim like the ocean be
Which parts the shore, where two contracted-new
Come daily to the banks, that, when they see
Return of love, more blest may be the view;
Or call it winter3, which being full of care,
Makes summer's welcome thrice more wish'd,
more rare.


Being your slave, what should I do but tend
Upon the hours and times of your desire?
I have no precious time at all to spend,
Nor services to do, till you require.
Nor dare I chide the world-without-end hour4,
Whilst I, my sovereign, watch the clock for you,
Nor think the bitterness of absence sour,
When you have bid your servant once adieu;
Nor dare I question with my jealous thought,
Where you may be, or your affairs suppose;
But, like a sad slave, stay and think of nought,
Save, where you are, how happy you make those:
So true a fool is love, that in your will
(Though you do any thing) he thinks no ill.


That God forbid, that made me first your slave,
I should in thought control your times of pleasure,
Or at your hand the account of hours to crave,
Being your vassal, bound to stay your leisure!

3 Or call it winter,] The old copy reads—As call it, &c. The emendation, which requires neither comment nor support, was suggested to me by the late Mr. Tyrwhitt. Ma Lone.

4 — the World-without-end hour,] The tedious hour, that seems as if it would never end. So, in Love's Labour's Lost:

"a time, methinks, too short

"To make a world-without-end bargain in." i. e. an everlasting bargain. Ma Lone.

O, let me suffer (being at your beck)

The imprison'd absence of your liberty;

And patience, tame to sufferance, bide each checks,

Without accusing you of injury.

Be where you list; your charter is so strong,

That you yourself may privilege your time:

Do what you will6, to you it doth belong

Yourself to pardon of self-doing crime.

I am to wait, though waiting so be hell;

Not blame your pleasure, be it ill or well.


If there be nothing new, but that, which is,
Hath been before, how are our brains beguil'd,
Which, labouring for invention, bear amiss
The second burthen of a former child?
O, that record could with a backward look,
Even of five hundred courses of the sun,
Show me your image in some antique book,
Since mind at first in character was done7!
That I might see what the old world could say
To this composed wonder of your frame;

s And patience, Tame To Sufferance, bide each check,] So, in King Lear:

"A most poor man, made tame to fortune's blows."


6 Do what you will —] The quarto reads:—To what you will.—There can, I think, be do doubt that to was a misprint.


7 Show Me Your Image In Some Antisue Book,

Since mind at first in Character was done!] Would that I could read a description of you in the earliest manuscript that appeared after the first use of letters. That this is the meaning appears clearly from the next line:

"That I might see what the old world could say."

Again: "—the wits of former days," &c.

We yet use the word character in the same sense. Malone.

This may allude to the ancient custom of inserting real portraits among the ornaments of illuminated manuscripts, with inscriptions under them. Steevens.

Whether we are mended, or whe'r better they8, Or whether revolution be the same.

0! sure I am, the wits of former days To subjects worse have given admiring praise.


Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end;
Each changing place with that which goes before;
In sequent toil all forwards do contend.
Nativity once in the main of light9,
Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown'd,
Crooked eclipses 'gainst his glory fight,
And time that gave, doth now his gift confound1.
Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth2,
And delves the parallels in beauty's brow 3;
Feeds on the rarities of nature's truth,
And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow:
And yet, to times in hope, my verse shall stand4,
Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.

* —or Whe'r better they,] Whe'r for whether. The same abbreviation occurs in Venus and Adonis, and in King John. See vol. xv. p. 231, n. 6. Malone.

9 Nativity once in the Main of light,] In the great body of light. So, the main of waters. Malone.

1 — his gift Confound.] To confound in Shakspeare's age generally meant to destroy. Malone.

1 Time doth transfix the Flourish —] The external decoration. So, in The Comedy of Errors:

"Like painted trunks o'er-Jlourish'd by the devil."


s And Delves the Parallels in beauty's brow;] Renders what was before even and smooth, rough and uneven. So, in the second Sonnet:

"When forty winters shall besiege thy brow, "And dig deep trenches in thy beauty's field." Again, in the 19th Sonnet:

"Swift-footed time,

"O carve not with thy hours my love's fair brow, "Nor draw no line there with thine antique pen." Our author uses the word parallel in the same sense in Othello:

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