humble...bear (6): - The poet's friend is humble yet of the highest merit, and he tolerates those around him who are arrogant.
Sonnet 80 is a continuation of 79, and Shakespeare draws us even closer to the rival poet, who now displays more animus, trying deliberately to make the author "tongue-tied." But here we do see the start of a change in the poet's attitude. "He begins to accept the challenge, to see and to grapple with the paradox of inexpressibility, to consider the weight and the relative value of speech and silence, to defend actively the virtue that resides in his dumbness and in the humble plainness of his silence-like words" (Habicht, 195).
Lines 5-12 contain an extended nautical conceit, in which the author's friend is compared to the wide ocean, the author to a 'saucy bark' and a 'worthless boat', and the rival poet to 'the proudest sail.' The sea-and-ship imagery illustrates that the author is not exactly disconcerted despite the opening lamentations. "And this contrast takes on additional force when we remember that it was drawn by a poet in days when saucy English boats were almost every year engaging, and often sinking, tall-built full-sailed galleons upon the Spanish main" (Wilson, 183).
Habicht, Werner. Shakespeare's Universe: Renaissance Ideas and Conventions. New York: Scolar Press, 1996.
Martin, Philip J. T. Shakespeare's Sonnets: Self, Love and Art. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1972.
Ransom, John Crowe. Shakespeare at Sonnets. Shakespeare, the Sonnets. Ed. Peter Jones. London: Macmillan Press, 1977. 107-8. 1924.
Shakespeare, William. The Works of Shakespeare. Ed. John Dover Wilson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1969.