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O, how thy worth with manners may I sing,
When thou art all the better part of me?
What can mine own praise to mine own self bring?
And what is't but mine own when I praise thee?
Even for this let us divided live,
And our dear love lose name of single one,
That by this separation I may give
That due to thee which thou deservest alone.
O absence, what a torment wouldst thou prove,
Were it not thy sour leisure gave sweet leave
To entertain the time with thoughts of love,
Which time and thoughts so sweetly doth deceive,
   And that thou teachest how to make one twain,
   By praising him here who doth hence remain.

Paraphrase and Analysis of Sonnet 39


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 Introduction to Shakespeare's Sonnets
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 Six Theories About Shakespeare's Sonnets
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Points to Ponder ... "In the Sonnets we may read of the poet's intense hopes and fears regarding his fate, and we learn of his all-consuming desire for immortality. Begin as he may with his theme, he almost invariably merges into allegory, and represents himself as the contestant of death. Bodily death he does not fear: oblivion he dreads. He therefore argues incessantly on the course he shall pursue to defy the ravages of time and prevent the loss of reputation. He may have the applause of the day (on the stage); or he may command lasting renown (by his pen). His "fair friend," his "better angel," bids him to seek immortality; his "dark" mistress, the alluring woman with the "mourning eyes," tempts him to delights of the present. The two series of poems are almost wholly allegorical and antithetical." (John Cuming Walters. The Mystery of Shakespeare's Sonnets, p.112)