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Is it thy will, thy image should keep open
My heavy eyelids to the weary night?
Dost thou desire my slumbers should be broken,
While shadows, like to thee, do mock my sight?
Is it thy spirit that thou send'st from thee
So far from home, into my deeds to pry;
To find out shames and idle hours in me,
The scope and tenour of thy jealousy?
O no! thy love, though much, is not so great;
It is my love5 that keeps mine eye awake;
Mine own true love that doth my rest defeat,
To play the watchman ever for thy sake:
For thee watch I, whilst thou dost wake elsewhere From me far off, with others all-too-near.
Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye,
"—— How am I then a villain,
"To counsel Cassio to this parallel course?" Malone . * And yet, to times In Hope, my verse shall Stand,] So, in King Richard II.:
"Strong as a tower in hope, I say amen." Steevens. J It Is My love—] See p. 225, n. 8. Malone.
6 Methinks no face so Gracious is as mine,] Gracious was frequently used by our author and his contemporaries in the sense of beautiful. So, in King John:
"There was not such a gracious creature born." Malone.
7 Beated and chopp'd with tann'd Antiquity,] Thus the old copy. Beated was perhaps a misprint for 'bated. 'Bated is Mine own self-love quite contrary I read,
Self so self-loving were iniquity.
Tis thee (myself) that for myself I praise,
LXIII. Against my love shall be, as I am now,
properly overthrown; laid low; abated; from abattre, Fr. Hence (if this be the true reading) it is here used by our author with his usual licence, for disfigured; reduced to a lower or worse state than before. So, in The Merchant of Venice:
"With 'bated breath and whispering humbleness." Again, in the 63d Sonnet:
"With time's injurious hand crush'd and o'erworn." Beated however, the regular participle from the verb to beat, may be right. We had in a former Sonnet—weather-beaten face. In King Henry V. we find—casted, and in Macbeth—thrusted.
Malone. I think we should read blasted. So, in King Henry IV. Part I.: "—every part about you blasted with antiquity."
8 With time's injurious hand Crush'd and o'erworn ;] The old copy reads chrusht. I suspect that our author wrote Jrush'd, a word that occurs in Troilus and Cressida:
"I'll /rush it, and unlock the rivets all." Again, Holinshed in his Description of Ireland, p. 29: "When they are sorefrushl with sickness, or so farre withered with age." To say that a thing is first crush'd, and then over-worn, is little better than to observe of a man, that he was first killed, and then wounded. Steevens.
To Jrush is to bruise or batter. See Troilus and Cressida, vol. viii. p. 438, n. 3. What then is obtained by the change?
9 —when his youthful morn Hath travell'd onto Age's Steepy Night;] So, in King Richard III.:
"And turn my infant morn to aged night."
Are vanishing or vanish'd out of sight,
LXIV. When I have seen by Time's fell hand defac'd
I once thought that the poet wrote—sleepy night. But the word travell'd shows, I think, that the old copy is right, however incongruous the epithet steepy may appear. So, in the 7th Sonnet:
"Lo, in the orient when the gracious light
"Lifts up his burning head
"And having climb'd the steep-up heavenly hill, "Resembling strong youth in his middle age—." These lines fully explain what the poet meant by the steepy night of age.
The same opposition is found in the 15th Sonnet: "Then wasteful time debateth with decay "To change your day of youth to sullied night." Were it not for the antithesis which was certainly intended between morn and night, we might read:
"to age's steepy height." Malone.
1 — though my Lover's life:] See p. 255, n. 8. Malone. 1 — the hungry ocean gain Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,] So, Mortimer, in King Henry IV. Part I. speaking of the Trent: ", he bears his course, and runs me up "With like advantage on the other side, "Gelding the opposed continent as much." Steevens.
When I have seen such interchange of state3,
Or state itself confounded to decay;
Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate—
That time will come, and take my love away.
Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,
0 fearful meditation! where, alack,
Shall time's best jewel from time's chest lie hid6?
'When I have seen the hungry ocean gain Advantage on the kingdom of the shore, And the firm soil win of the watery main, Increasing store with loss, and loss with store;When I have seen such interchange of state, &c.] So, in King Henry IV. Part II.:
"O heaven! that one might read the book of fate;"And see the revolution of the times"Make mountains level, and the continent,"Weary of solid firmness, melt itself"Into the sea! and, other times, to see"The beachy girdle of the ocean"Too wide for Neptune's hips; how chances mock,"And changes fill the cup of alteration"With diverse liquors!" C. * How with This rage shall beauty hold a plea,] Shakspeare,
1 believe, wrote—with his rage,—i. e. with the rage of Mortality.
s — Siege of battering days,] So, in Romeo and Juliet:
"the siege of loving terms." Steevens. 6 O fearful meditation! where, alack, Shall time's best jewel from time's Chest lie hid?] I once thought Shakspeare might have written—from time's quest, but Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back? Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid7?
am now convinced that the old reading is right. "Time's best jewel" is the person addressed, who, the author feared, would not be able to escape the devastation of time, but would fall a prey, however beautiful, to his all-subduing power. So, in his 48th Sonnet:
"thou, to whom my jewels trifles are,"Thee have I not lock'd up in any chest, "Save where thou art not, though I feel thou art." This allusion is a favourite one of Shakspeare, for he has introduced it in several places. Thus again, in King Richard II.: "A jewel in a ten-times-barr'd-up chest "Is—a bold spirit in a loyal breast." Again, in his Rape of Lucrece:
"She wakes her heart by beating on her breast, "And bids it leap from thence, where it may find "Some purer chest, to close so pure a mind." Again, in King John:
"They found him dead, and thrown into the street, "An empty casket, where the jewel of life "By some damn'd villain was robb'd and ta'en away!" A similar conceit is found in an Epitaph on Prince Henry, eldest son of King James I. written in 1613: "Within this marble casket lies "A matchless jewel of rich price; "Whom nature, in the world's disdain, "But shew'd, and then put up again." The chest of Time is the repository where he lays up the most rare and curious productions of nature; one of which the poet esteemed his friend.
— vobis male sit, mala; tenebrae Orci, quae omnia bella devoratis. Catul. Malone. Time's chest is the repository into which he is poetically supposed to throw those things which he designs to be forgotten. Thus, in Troilus and Cressida:
"Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back, "Wherein he puts alms for oblivion." Again, in Sonnet LII.:
"So is the time that keeps you, as my chest." The thief who evades pursuit, may be said with propriety to lie hidfrom justice, or from confinement. Steevens.
7 Or who his spoil Of beauty can forbid?] The reading of the quarto—his spoil or beauty, is manifestly a misprint.