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The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem
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:
* 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. 8 —My verse distills your truth.] The old copy reads, I think, corruptedly:—by verse distills vour truth. Malone.
Not marble, nor the gilded monuments 9
Sweet love, renew thy force; be it not said,
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,
Let this sad interim like the ocean be
Being your slave, what should I do but tend
That God forbid, that made me first your slave,
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,
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,
* —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:
"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: