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O, from what power hast thou this powerful might,
With insufficiency my heart to sway?
To make me give the lie to my true sight,
And swear that brightness doth not grace the day?
Whence hast thou this becoming of things ill,
That in the very refuse of thy deeds
There is such strength and warrantise of skill,
That, in my mind, thy worst all best exceeds?
Who taught thee how to make me love thee more,
The more I hear and see just cause of hate?
0, though I love what others do abhor,
With others thou shouldst not abhor my state:
If thy unworthiness rais'd love in me,
More worthy I to be belov'd of thee.
Love is too young to know what conscience is ;
Yet who knows not, conscience is born of love?
Then, gentle cheater, urge not my amiss,
Lest guilty of my faults thy sweet self prove :
For thou betraying me, I do betray
My nobler part to my gross body's treason ;
My soul doth tell my body that he may
Triumph in love ; flesh stays no farther reason ;
But, rising at thy name, doth point out thee
As his triumphant prize. Proud of this pride,
He is contented thy poor drudge to be,
To stand in thy affairs, fall by thy side.
No want of conscience hold it that I call
Her "love" for whose dear love I rise and fall.
In loving thee thou know'st I am forsworn,
But thou art twice forsworn, to me love swearing ;
In act thy bed-vow broke, and new faith torn,
In vowing new hate after new love bearing.
But why of two oaths' breach do I accuse thee,
When I break twenty? I am perjured most;
For all my vows are oaths but to misuse thee,
And all my honest faith in thee is lost:
For I have sworn deep oaths of thy deep kindness,
* And swear that brightness doth not grace the day!] Compare, “Romeo and Juliet,' Act III. Sc. 5,
“I'll say, yon grey is not the morning's eye." • Whence hast thou this becoming of things ill, -] Whence hast thou this power of adorning or setting off, &c.
• Then, gentle cheater,---] “Cheater" here signifies escheator, an official who appears to have been regarded by the common people in Shakespeare's day much the same as they now look upon an informer. See note (1), p. 358, Vol. II.
Oaths of thy love, thy truth, thy constancy ;
And, to enlighten thee, gave eyes to blindness,
Or made them swear against the thing they see ;
For I have sworn thee fair,-more perjur'd 1,a
To swear, against the truth, so foul a lie!
Cupid laid by his brand, and fell asleep:
A maid of Dian's this advantage found,
And his love-kindling fire did quickly steep
In a cold valley-fountain of that ground;
Which borrow'd from this holy fire of Love
A dateless-lively heat, still to endure,
And grew a seething bath, which yet men prove
Against strange maladies a sovereign cure.
But at my mistress' eye Love's brand new-fir'd,
The boy for trial needs would touch my breast ;
1, sick withal, the help of bath desir'd,
And thither hied, a sad distemper'd guest,
But found no cure: the bath for my help lies
Where Cupid got new fire,-my mistress' eyes.
The little Love-god, lying once asleep,
Laid by his side his heart-inflaming brand,
Whilst many nymphs that vow'd chaste life to keep
Came tripping by; but in her maiden hand
The fairest votary took up that fire
Which many legions of true hearts had warm’d;
And so the general of hot desire
Was sleeping by a virgin hand disarm’d.
This brand she quenched in a cool well by,
Which from Love's fire took heat perpetual,
Growing a bath and healthful remedy
For men diseas'd; but I, my mistress' thrall,
Came there for cure, and this by that I prove,
Love's fire heats water, water cools not love.c
more perjur'd 1,-) The quarto by a palpable mistake prints,-“ More periurde
my mistress' eyes.] The old copy has,-“my mistres eye." c- water cools not love.] On these two last Sonnets Malone observes that “They seem to have been early essays of the poet, who perhaps had not determined which he should prefer. He hardly could have intended to send them both into the world."
FROM off a hill whose concave womb-re-worded
A plaintful story from a sistering vale,
My spirits to attend this double voice accorded,
And down I laid to list the sad-tun'd tale:
Ere long espied a fickle maid full pale,
Tearing of papers, breaking rings a-twain,
Storming her world with sorrow's wind and rain.
Upon her head a platted hive of straw,
Which fortified her visage from the sun,
Whereon the thought might think sometime it saw
The carcass of a beauty spent and done:
Time had not scythed all that youth begun,
Nor youth all quit; but, spite of heaven's fell rage,
Some beauty peep'd through lattice of sear'd age.
Oft did she heave her napkind to her eyne,
Which on it had conceited characters, e
Laund'ring the silken figures in the brine
That season'd woe had pelleted in tears,
And often reading what contents it bears ;
As often shrieking undistinguish'd woe,
In clamours of all size', both high and low.
Sometimes her levelld eyes their carriage ride,
As they did battery to the spheres intend ;
Sometime diverted their poor balls are tied
To th’orbed earth ; sometimes they do extend
Their view right on; anon their gazes lend
: "This beautiful poem was first printed in 1609, with our author's name, at the end of the quarto edition of his Sonnets. I wonder that it has not attracted the attention of some English painter, the opening being uncommonly picturesque. The figures, however, of the lady and the old man should be standing, not sitting, by the river side; Shakspeare reclining on a hill.”—MALONE.
- a sistering vale,–] A proximate or contiguous vale, we apprehend, but the word is peculiar. é – world—] Microcosm. Compare, “King Lear,” Act III. Sc. 1,
“ Strives in his little world of man to outscorn
The to-and-fro-contlicting wind and rain.”
conceited characters, - Fanciful figures.
To every place at once, and, nowhere fix'd,
The mind and sight distractedly commix’d.
Her hair, nor loose, nor tied in formal plat,
Proclaim'd in her a careless hand of pride ;
For some, untuck'd, descended her sheav'd hat,
Hanging her pale and pined cheek beside;
Some in her threaden fillet still did bide,
And, true to bondage, would not break from thence,
Though slackly braided in loose negligence.
A thousand favours from a maunda she drew
Of amber, crystal, and of beaded b jet,
Which one by one she in a river threw,
Upon whose weeping margent she was set;
Like usury, applying wet to wet,
Or monarch's hands, that let not bounty fall
Where want cries some, but where excess begs all.
Of folded schedules had she many a one,
Which she perus'd, sigh’d, tore, and gave the flood;
Crack'd many a ring of posied gold and bone,
Bidding them find their sepulchres in mud;
Found yet more letters sadly penn'd in blood,
With sleided silk feat and affectedly
Enswath'd, and seald to curious secrecy.
These often bath'd she in her fluxive eyes,
And often kiss'd, and often gane to tear ;
Cried, “O) false blood, thou register of lies,
What unapproved witness dost thou bear!
Ink would have seem'd more black and damned here!"
This said, in top of rage the lines she rents,
Big discontent so breaking their contents.
a maund-] A hand-basket.
b — beaded-] The quarto reads, " bedded."
- cries some,-) That is, as Mr. Dyce correctly explains it, cries for some.
Tith sleided silk feat and affectedly
Enswath'd, and seald to curious secrecy.]
“ Sleided silk” is untuisted silk; what we now term floss silk. “Feat" means cleverly, nicely. “To be convinced of the propriety of this description, let the reader consult the
Royal Letters,' &c. in the British Museum, where he will find that anciently the ends of a narrow ribbon were placed under the seals of letters, to connect them more closely." -STEEVENS.
e — and aften gan to tear;] A conjectural reading of Malone, the old copy having,
The swiftest hours, observed as they flew,-
Towards this afflicted fancy fastly drew;
And, privileg'd by age, desires to know
In brief the grounds and motives of her woe.
So slides he down upon his grained bat, a
And comely-distant sits he by her side;
When he again desires her, being sat,
Her grievance with his hearing to divide :
If that from him there may be aught applied
Which may her suffering ecstasy assuage,
'Tis promis’d in the charity of age.
“Father," she says, “though in me you behold
The injury of many a blasting hour,
Let it not tell your judgment I am old ;
Not age, but sorrow, over me hath power :
I might as yet have been a spreading flower,
Fresh to myself, if I had self-applied
Love to myself, and to no love beside.
“But, woe is 'me! too early I attended
A youthful suit (it was to gain my grace)
Ofc one by nature's outwards so commended,
That maidens' eyes stuck over all his face:
Love lack'd a dwelling, and made him her place;d
And when in his fair parts she did abide,
She was new lodg’d, and newly deified.
“ His browny locks did hang in crooked curls;
And every light occasion of the wind
Upon his lips their silken parcels hurls.
What's sweet to do, to do will aptly find:
that saw him did enchant the mind;
For on his visage was in little drawn,
What largeness thinks in paradise was sawn.
“Small show of man was yet upon his chin ;
His phenixf down began but to appear,
Like unshorn velvet, on that termless skin,
Whose bare out-bragg'd the web it seem'd to wear;
Yet show'd his visage by that cost more dear;
And nice affections wavering stood in doubt
If best were as it was, or best without.
- his grained bat.--] His rough staff, or club.
· ecstasy-) Distraction, « Of one-) The quarto reads, “ () one," &c. d – her place;) Her seat, her mansion.
- sawn.] Sown; or, as some explain it, seen. We think the former is the true meaning.
I-phænix down--] Is this corrupt? Malone supposes by "phænix” she means matchless, rare ; but if so, the allusion is very far-fetched.