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3. May, a summer month; May in Shakspere's time ran on to within a few days of our mid June. Compare Cymbeline, A& 1. sc. 3, 1. 36:
And like the tyrannous breathing of the north
Shakes all our buds froin growing. s. Eye of heaven, so King Richard 11., A& III. sc. 2, l. 37, 'the searching eye of heaven'.
10. That fair thou owest, that beauty thou possessest.
11, 12. This anticipation of immortality for their verse was a commonplace with the Sonnet-writers of the time of Elizabeth. See Spenser : Amoretti, Sonnets 27, 69, 75; Drayton : Idea, Sonnets 6, 44; Daniel : Delia, Sonnet 39.
XIX. Shak[pere, confident of the immortality of his friend in verse, defies Time.
1. Devouring. S. Walker conje&ures destroying.
s. Fleets. The Quarto has fleets ; I follow Dyce, believing that Shakspere cared more for his rhyme than his grammar. Compare confounds, Sonnet VIII.
XX. His friend is beauty's pattern ', . XIX. 12; as such he owns the attributes of male and female beauty.
1. A woman's face, but not, as women's faces are, painted by art.
2. Mafier-mistress of my pasion, who sways my love with united charms of man and woman. Mr. H. C. Hart suggests to me that pasion may be used in the old sense of love-poem, frequent in Watson.
5. Lefs false in rolling. Compare Spenser, Faerie Queene, B. III. c. i. s. 41:
Her wanton eyes (ill signes of womanhed)
Did roll too lightly. 8. In the Quarto, “A man in hew all Hews in his controwling'. The italics and capital letter suggested to Tyrwhitt that more is meant here than meets the eye, that the Sonnets may have been addressed to some one named Hews or Hughes, and that Mr. W. H. may be Mr. William Hughes.
But the following words have also capital letters and are in italics :-Rose 1. 2; Audit iv. 12 ; Statues LV. 5; Intrim Lvi. 9; Alien LXXVIII. 3 ; Satire c. II; Autumne civ. 5 ; Abisme cxl. 9; Alcumie cxiv. 4; Syren cxix. 1; Heriticke cxxiv. 9; Informer cxxv.
CXXVI. II; Quietus cxxvI. 12. The word “hue' was used by Elizabethan writers not only in the sense of complexion, but also in that of shape, form. In Faerie Queene, B. v. c. ix. s. 17, 18, Talus tries to seize Malengin, who transforms himself into a fox, a bush, a bird, a stone, and then a hedgehog :-
Then gan it (the hedgehog) run away incontinent
The meaning of lines 7, 8 in this Sonnet then may be ‘A man in form and appearance, having the mastery over all forms in that of his, which steals, etc.' With the phrase "controlling hues' compare Sonnet CVI. 8:
Even such a beauty as you master now.
11. Defeated, defrauded, disappointed; fo A Midsummer Night's Dream, A& iv. sc. 1, ll. 153-155:They would have folen away; they would, Demetrius, Thereby to have defeated you and me, You of your wife and me of my consent.
XXI. The first line of xx. suggests this sonnet. The face of Shak[pere's friend is painted by Nature alone, and so too there is no false painting, no poetical hyperbole in the description. As containing examples of such extravagant comparisons, amorous fancies, far-fetched conceits of Sonnet-writers as Shakspere here speaks of, Mr. Main (Treasury of English Sonnets, p. 283) cites Spenser's Amoretti, 9 and 64; Daniel's Delia, 19; Barnes's Parthenophil and Parthenophe, Sonnet XLVIII.; compare also Griffin's Fidesa, Sonnet xxxIx.; and Constable's Diana (1594), the sixth Decade, Sonnet I.
5. Making a couplement of proud compare, joining in proud comparisons.
8. Rondure, circle, as in King John, A& 11. sc. 1, 1. 259, the roundure of your old-faced walls'. Staunton proposes 'vault' in place of air ’ in this line.
12. Gold candles, compare “These blessed candles of the night'. The Merchant of Venice, Ad v. 1. 220; also Romeo and Juliet, A& III. sc. S, l. 9; Macbeth, Act 11. sc. I, 1. s.
13. That like of hearsay well. “To like of' meaning 'to like' is frequent in Shakspere. Schniidt's explanation is that fall in love with what has been
praised by others '; but does it not rather mean, that like to be buzzed about by talk '?
14. Compare Love's Labour's Loft, A& iv. sc. 3, II. 239, 240 :-
Fie, painted rhetoric ! O, she needs it not:
To things of Sale a seller's praise belongs. XXII. The praise of his friend's beauty suggests by contrast Shakspere's own face marred by time. He comforts himself by claiming his friend's beauty as his own. Lines 11-14 give the first hint of possible wrong committed by the youth against friendship.
4. Expiate, bring to an end. So King Richard III., A& 11. sc. 3, 1. 23:
Make hafte: the hour of death is expiate (changed in the second Folio to 'now expired '). In Chapman's Byron's Conspiracie, an old courtier says he is
A poor and expiate humour of the court. Steevens conje&ures in this sonnet expirate, which R. Grant White introduces into the text.
10. As I, etc., as I will be wary of myself for thy fake, not my own.
XXIII. The sincerity and silent love of his verses; returning to the thought of xxi. 1, 2. So Coriolanus, Aa v. sc. 3, 11. 40-42:
Like a dull a&or now,
s. For fear of trust, fearing to trust myself. Schmidt explains doubting of being trusted', but the comparison is to an imperfe& a&or, who dare not trust himself. Observe the construction of the first eight lines; 5, 6, refer to 1, 2; 7, 8, to 3, 4.
9. Books. Sewell has ‘O, let my looks'. But the Quarto text is right; so l. 13.
O learn to read what silent love hath writ. The books of which Shakspere speaks are probably the manuscript books in which he writes his sonnets. In support of looks H. Isaac cites Spenser : Amoretti, 43.
12. More than, etc., more than that tongue (the tongue of another) which hath more fully expressed more ardours of love, or more of your perfe&ions.
XXIV. Suggested by the thought, XXII. 6, of Shakspere's heart being lodged in his friend's breast, and by the conceit of xxIII. 14; there eyes are able to hear through love's fine wit; here eyes do other singular things, play the painter.
1. Stell’d, fixed: seeld, Quarto. Compare Lucrece, 1444:
To find a face where all distress is stell'd. 2. Table, that on which a pi&ture is painted. Compare All's Well that Ends Well, Aa 1. sc. I, 11. 104-106:
To fit and draw