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O, how I faint when I of you do write,
Knowing a better spirit doth use your name,
And in the praise thereof spends all his might,
To make me tongue-tied, speaking of your fame!
But since your worth, wide as the ocean is,
The humble as the proudest sail doth bear,
My saucy bark inferior far to his
On your broad main doth wilfully appear.
Your shallowest help will hold me up afloat,
Whilst he upon your soundless deep doth ride;
Or being wreck'd, I am a worthless boat,
He of tall building and of goodly pride:
   Then if he thrive and I be cast away,
   The worst was this; my love was my decay.

Paraphrase and Analysis of Sonnet 80


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Did You Know? ... "Among the minor questions relating to the Sonnets which have been the subject of no little controversy the only one that seems to claim notice here is the identity of the "rival poet" of Sonnets 79-86. Spenser, Marlowe, Drayton, Nash, Daniel, and others have been suggested by the critics, and Mr. Lee adds Barnabe Barnes, "a poetic panegyrist of Southampton and a prolific sonneteer, who was deemed by contemporary critics certain to prove a great poet." On the whole, Chapman, whom Professor Minto was the first to suggest, and whom Dowden, Furnivall, and many others have endorsed, is most likely to have been the poet whom Shakespeare had in mind." W. J. Rolfe. Read on....


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