home contact


Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day,
And make me travel forth without my cloak,
To let base clouds o'ertake me in my way,
Hiding thy bravery in their rotten smoke?
'Tis not enough that through the cloud thou break,
To dry the rain on my storm-beaten face,
For no man well of such a salve can speak
That heals the wound and cures not the disgrace:
Nor can thy shame give physic to my grief;
Though thou repent, yet I have still the loss:
The offender's sorrow lends but weak relief
To him that bears the strong offence's [cross].
   Ah! but those tears are pearl which thy love sheds,
   And they are rich and ransom all ill deeds.


XXXIV. Imagery similar to that of the last Sonnet is used, and the poet again contrasts the dark storm-clouds with the promise of the early morning. The sun, however, is beginning to break through the clouds; the poet's friend shows signs of penitence. But tears shed after the offence had been committed could give no adequate relief. Still, on second thoughts, the poet pronounces these tears a rich treasure and a full satisfaction.

3. Base clouds. The clouds are "base" on account of their dampness defacing and obscuring the glory of the heavens.

4. Bravery. Glory and splendour. Rotten smoke. Meaning possibly damp, unwholesome vapour. Steevens compares "the reek o' the rotten fins." Coriolanus, Act iii. sc. 3, line 121. "Rotten," however, may here mean "loose," "wanting in coherence."

6. To dry the rain, &c. Continuing the imagery of the last Sonnet, according to which the poet had been overtaken by a storm.

12. [Cross]. Q. has "losse," which may possibly have remained by oversight on a revision of the MS.

13. Sheds. Q. "sheeds."

How to cite this article:
Shakespeare, William. Sonnets. Ed. Thomas Tyler. London: D. Nutt, 1890. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2013. < >.

Even More...

 Stratford School Days: What Did Shakespeare Read?
 Games in Shakespeare's England [A-L]
 Games in Shakespeare's England [M-Z]
 An Elizabethan Christmas
 Clothing in Elizabethan England

 Queen Elizabeth: Shakespeare's Patron
 King James I of England: Shakespeare's Patron
 The Earl of Southampton: Shakespeare's Patron
 Going to a Play in Elizabethan London

 Ben Jonson and the Decline of the Drama
 Religion in Shakespeare's England

 Alchemy and Astrology in Shakespeare's Day
 Entertainment in Elizabethan England
 London's First Public Playhouse
 Shakespeare Hits the Big Time

More to Explore

 Introduction to Shakespeare's Sonnets
 Sonnet 80: Sailing Metaphor
 Shakespearean Sonnet Style
 How to Analyze a Shakespearean Sonnet
 The Rules of Shakespearean Sonnets

 Shakespeare's Sonnets: Q & A
 Are Shakespeare's Sonnets Autobiographical?
 Petrarch's Influence on Shakespeare
 Themes in Shakespeare's Sonnets

 Shakespeare's Greatest Love Poem
 Shakespeare and the Earl of Southampton
 The Order of the Sonnets
 The Date of the Sonnets

 Who was Mr. W. H.?
 Are all the Sonnets addressed to two Persons?
 Who was The Rival Poet?
 Publishing in Elizabethan England
 Shakespeare's Audience


A Look at Metaphors ... "Metaphors are of two kinds, viz. Radical, when a word or root of some general meaning is employed with reference to diverse objects on account of an idea of some similarity between them, just as the adjective 'dull' is used with reference to light, edged tools, polished surfaces, colours, sounds, pains, wits, and social functions; and Poetical, where a word of specialized use in a certain context is used in another context in which it is literally inappropriate, through some similarity in function or relation, as 'the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune', where 'slings' and 'arrows', words of specialized meaning in the context of ballistics, are transferred to a context of fortune." Percival Vivian. Read on...


 Shakespeare's Greatest Metaphors
 Shakespeare's Metaphors and Similes
 Deception in Hamlet
 The Hamlet and Ophelia Subplot
 The Norway (Fortinbras) Subplot

 Blank Verse and Diction in Shakespeare's Hamlet
 Hamlet's Silence
 Analysis of the Characters in Hamlet
 Hamlet's Humor: The Wit of Shakespeare's Prince of Denmark

 Hamlet as National Hero
 Hamlet's Melancholy: The Transformation of the Prince
 Hamlet's Antic Disposition: Is Hamlet's Madness Real?