What's in the brain that ink may character,
Which hath not figur'd to thee my true spirit?
What's new to speak, what new to register,
That may express my love or thy dear merit?
Nothing sweet boy; but yet, like prayers divine,
I must, each day say o'er the very same;
Counting no old thing old, thou mine, I thine,
Even as when first I hallow'd thy fair name.
So that eternal love in love's fresh case
Weighs not the dust and injury of age,
Nor gives to necessary wrinkles place,
But makes antiquity for aye his page,
Finding the first conceit of love there bred
Where time and outward form would show it dead.
CVIII. In expressing his love to his friend the poet had already used all the ideas which thought could devise, and all the expressions which language could supply. But, notwithstanding the constant repetition, the poet must not cease from his strains. Love is eternal, knowing no change in the object beloved.
3. What now to register. So Q., though "now" may possibly be a misprint for "new."
5. Sweet boy. Notice the indication of youth, though the expression
might be suitably employed of a young man of twenty-one, retaining his
youthful freshness. Like prayers divine. Like prayers to the Deity.
9. In love's fresh case. Though a change may have occurred in the
appearance of the beloved one, placing the lover consequently in "a fresh case," a new position.
10, 11. Love does not regard the injuries inflicted by age, or unavoidable
wrinkles. These injuries are merely external, like dust on the surface.
12. But makes antiquity for aye his page. Ever sets before him the
appearance of the beloved one in that olden time when the attachment
13, 14. Though the beauty of the beloved person may be decayed, yet
imagination conceives of it as it was at first. "The first conceit of love" is still produced, where, to the ordinary eye, the power to charm is gone.
How to cite this article:
Shakespeare, William. Sonnets. Ed. Thomas Tyler. London: D. Nutt, 1890. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2013. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/108.html >.
Not marble, nor the gilded monuments ... This opening line of Sonnet 55 is likely an allusion to the lavish tombs of English royalty; in particular, to the tomb of Henry VII in Westminster Abbey, which contains a large sarcophagus made of black marble with gilded effigies of King Henry and his queen, Elizabeth of York.