Whoever hath her wish, thou hast thy Will,
And Will to boot, and Will in overplus;
More than enough am I that vex thee still,
To thy sweet will making addition thus.
Wilt thou, whose will is large and spacious,
Not once vouchsafe to hide my will in thine?
Shall will in others seem right gracious,
And in my will no fair acceptance shine?
The sea all water, yet receives rain still
And in abundance addeth to his store;
So thou, being rich in Will, add to thy Will
One will of mine, to make thy large Will more.
Let no unkind no fair beseechers kill;
Think all but one, and me in that one Will.
CXXXV. The special characteristic of this Sonnet, as compared with those preceding, is the play on the word "Will." The dark lady has the "Will" of the poet's friend, meaning, no doubt, William Herbert. The poet asks that his "Will" (William Shakespeare) may be added, and that she will esteem as one her own will and the "Wills" of her two admirers. The Sonnet scarcely admits of further analysis.
An exceedingly interesting parallel to this and following Sonnets is found in the Dedication by John Davies to his "Select Second Husband for Sir Thomas Overbury's Wife, now a Matchless Widow" (1606). And it is specially appropriate as being addressed to "William Earle of Pembroke:"
"Wit and my Will (deere Lord) were late at strife,
To whom this Bridegroome I for grace might send
Who Bride was erst the happiest husbands wife
That ere was haplesse in his Friend, and End.
Wit, with it selfe, and with my Will, did warre,
For Will (good-Will) desir'd it might be YOU.
But Wit found fault with each particular
It selfe had made; sith YOU were It to view," &c.
(From Grosart's Chertsey Worthies' Library).
Comparison may also be made of the lines commencing the
Epigram addressed by Davies to Shakespeare:
"Some say, good Will (which I, in sport, do sing),
Hadst thou not plaid some kingly parts in sport," &c.
1. Will. In the printing of this word I here follow the Quarto. The
word is, of course, used in a double sense, as an abbreviated personal name,
and, also, of the lady's will as distinguished from her "wish."
2. Not only a sufficiency but a superfluity of "Will."
3, 4. The poet is the superfluity.
5. Whose will is large and spacious. Whose desires are so ample.
7, 8. Shall will in others, &c. It is doubtful whether in this and the next
line "will" ought not to be taken as a name. "Shall will, in the case of others, seem quite acceptable, and not in respect of my will?"
12. One will of mine. "Will" here may be taken as representing the
poet's desire as well as his name.
13. Dowden suggests that this line should be printed, "Let no unkind 'No' fair beseechers kill." I am inclined to accept this view, with the exception that "your" would seem preferable to "fair." But I have not ventured to introduce this emendation into the text.
How to cite this article:
Shakespeare, William. Sonnets. Ed. Thomas Tyler. London: D. Nutt, 1890. Shakespeare Online. 10 Jan. 2014. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/135.html >.
Points to Ponder... "I don't think it matters much who "W. H." was. The great question is, do Shakspere's Sonnets speak his own heart and thoughts or not? And were it not for the fact that many critics really deserving the name of Shakespeare students, and not Shakespeare fools, have held the Sonnets to be merely dramatic, I could not have conceived that poems so intensely and evidently autobiographic and self-revealing, poems so one
with the spirit and inner meaning of Shakspere's growth arid life, could ever have been conceived to
be other than what they are, the records of his own loves and fears. And I believe that if the
acceptance of them as such had not involved the consequence of Shakespeare's intrigue with a married
woman, all readers would have taken the Sonnets as speaking of Shakespeare's own life. But his
admirers are so anxious to remove every stain from him, that they contend for a non-natural interpretation of his poems." (F.J. Furnivall. The Leopold Shakespeare, p.72.)