Let those who are in favour with their stars,
Of public honour and proud titles boast,
Whilst I, whom fortune of such triumph bars,
Unlook'd for joy in that I honour most.
Great princes' favourites their fair leaves spread
But as the marigold at the sun's eye;
And in themselves their pride lies buried,
For at a frown they in their glory die.
The painful warrior famoused for worth,
After a thousand victories once foil'd,
Is from the book of honour razed quite,
And all the rest forgot for which he toil'd:
Then happy I, that love and am beloved
Where I may not remove nor be removed.
XXV. The poet contrasts his position to that of the courtier whose glory depends on the smile or frown of a prince, or to that of the soldier whose honour and repute are lost through one defeat,
after even a thousand victories. But the love between himself and his friend can feel no such reversal.
3. Fortune of such triumph bars. A sentiment to be expressed afterwards more fully. Cf. e.g., xxix., xxxvi., cxi.
4. Unlook'd for. Disregarded and not sought for to receive distinction.
"Her eyes, like marigolds, had sheath'd their light,
And, canopied in darkness, sweetly lay
Till they might open to adorn the day."
Schmidt identifies the marigold here spoken of as "the flower Calendula
7. And in themselves. Suddenly all display of glory is at an end, and
they become, as it were, the tomb of their own former pride.
9. Worth. The emendations "fight" and "might" have been proposed, or, leaving "worth" untouched, it has been suggested that "quite" (line 11) should be changed to "forth."
4. Perspective. As used here, the meaning of the word appears to be
"capability of being looked through." But though this may be the sense
immediately intended, there is a reference also to the ordinary employment of the word in relation to pictorial art, whether with respect to the representation of distance, or of a picture so designed as to require
to be looked at obliquely. Cf. Richard II., Act ii. sc. 2, line 18 seq.:
"Like perspectives, which, rightly gazed upon,
Show nothing but confusion; ey'd awry
5. Through the painter, &c. In the sense mentioned above. But there
is probably an allusion, also, to the general necessity of taking the position
occupied by an artist in painting a picture, so as to see, as it were, with
11. Are windows -- where-through the sun. Notice the additional proof
of sincerity. Not only are the friend's eyes windows to the poet's breast,
seeing everything within, but the sun himself can look through.
14. Know not the heart. Intimating possibly a suspicion in accordance
with the last lines of xxii.
How to cite this article:
Shakespeare, William. Sonnets. Ed. Thomas Tyler. London: D. Nutt, 1890. Shakespeare Online. 22 Dec. 2013. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/25.html >.
Shakespeare on Fate... We have a Roman scholar named Boethius to thank for the medieval and Renaissance fixation on "fortune's wheel." Queen Elizabeth herself translated his hugely popular discourse on fate's role in the Universe, The Consolation of Philosophy. Although the idea of the wheel of fortune existed before Boethius, his work was the source on the subject for Chaucer, Dante, Machiavelli, and of course, Shakespeare. Read on....