Thus is his cheek the map of days outworn,
When beauty liv'd and died as flowers do now,
Before the bastard signs of fair were borne,
Or durst inhabit on a living brow;
Before the golden tresses of the dead,
The right of sepulchres, were shorn away,
To live a second life on second head;
Ere beauty's dead fleece made another gay.
In him those holy antique hours are seen,
Without all ornament, itself and true,
Making no summer of another's green,
Robbing no old to dress his beauty new;
And him as for a map doth Nature store,
To show false Art what beauty was of yore.
LXVIII. Enlarges further on the subject of the last Sonnet, and in addition condemns the wearing of false hair.
1. The map of days outworn. "This pattern of the worn-out age," used of the groom in Lucrece, has been compared, as also "Thou map of honour" in King Richard II., Act v. sc. i, line 12.
3. These bastard signs of fair. This mere artificial appearance of beauty.
Bastard. As not truly derived from Nature.
6. The right of sepulchres. Which should have been consigned to the
sepulchre, and have remained there. The following passage from the
Merchant of Venice, Act iii. sc. 2, lines 92-96, has been justly compared:
"So are those crisped snaky golden locks,
Which make such wanton gambols with the wind,
Upon supposed fairness, often known
To be the dowry of a second head,
The skull that bred them in the sepulchre."
8. Ere beauty's dead fleece, &c., appears to express in other words what had been already said.
10. Itself would seem to be equivalent to "nature itself."
12. Robbing no old, &c. These words and the two lines preceding may be taken to explain the "holy" of line 9, which can scarcely be used of moral purity. See the Sonnet following.
How to cite this article:
Shakespeare, William. Sonnets. Ed. Thomas Tyler. London: D. Nutt, 1890. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2013. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/68.html >.
Did You Know?... "People of high social rank often built the hair into towering masses on the crown of the head; but as a rule the hair was dressed plain, though frequently covered with jewels. The Elizabethan women, as well as the men, dyed their hair, not to conceal the fact that it was turning gray, but to please a passing fancy. There was no attempt to conceal the practice, nor was the same colour always used. In fact, the colour of the hair was made to harmonise with the garments worn upon any particular occasion. Those who did not care to dye their hair wore wigs. The Elizabethans revelled in wigs. The Records of the Wardrobe show that Elizabeth possessed eighty at one time. Mary Stuart, during a part of her captivity in England, changed her hair every day. So usual was this habit, and so great the demand for hair, that children with handsome locks were never allowed to walk alone in the London streets for fear they should be temporarily kidnapped and their tresses cut off." Henry Thew Stephenson. Read on....