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SONNET 58 PARAPHRASE
That God forbid, that made me first your slave, God, who first made me your slave, forbid,
I should in thought control your times of pleasure, That I should, even in thought, control your times of happiness,
Or at your hand th' account of hours to crave, Or crave to know how you spend your hours,
Being your vassal, bound to stay your leisure! Being your servant, bound to wait for your leisure!
O, let me suffer (being at your beck), O, let me suffer (being at your beck and call),
Th' imprison'd absence of your liberty; The imprisoned absence of your freedom,
And patience, tame to sufferance, bide each check, And may I tame patience into suffering, and take every insult,
Without accusing you of injury. Without accusing you of doing wrong to me.
Be where you list, your charter is so strong Wherever you may be, your freedom is so complete
That you yourself may privilege your time That you yourself may decide what you do with your time
To what you will; to you it doth belong To do whatever you want; to you alone it belongs.
Yourself to pardon of self-doing crime. You must pardon yourself of any crimes you may commit.
I am to wait, though waiting so be hell; I am to wait, though waiting may be hell;
Not blame your pleasure, be it ill or well. And not blame your pleasure, be it good or bed.


Notes

imprison'd absence of your liberty (6) ] i.e., when you are absent it is though I am in prison.

Here we see Shakespeare's battle to come to terms with his relationship with his flawed lover. Paul Ramsey explains:
The struggle to justify or deny the evils of the friend was costly and virtually continual, taking its strongest and most startling form in lines 58.11-12. . . The friend is the standard; therefore he can do no wrong; when he does wrong, being the source and standard of good, he may forgive himself wrong; he may not be blamed, be he blameworthy or not. The blasphemy and confusion of such attitudes is fundamentally thoroughly serious; the young man is treated with intense religious devotion, and the contradiction of 'lascivious grace' (40.13) is known and hardly to be endured" (The Fickle Glass, p. 144).







How to cite this article:
Shakespeare, William. Sonnet 58. Ed. Amanda Mabillard. Shakespeare Online. 8 Dec. 2008. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/58detail.html >.

References
Ramsey, Paul. The Fickle Glass: A Study of Shakespeare's Sonnets. New York: AMS Press, 1979.
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