They that have power to hurt and will do none,
That do not do the thing they most do show,
Who, moving others, are themselves as stone,
Unmoved, cold, and to temptation slow;
They rightly do inherit heaven's graces
And husband nature's riches from expense;
They are the lords and owners of their faces,
Others but stewards of their excellence.
The summer's flower is to the summer sweet,
Though to itself it only live and die,
But if that flower with base infection meet,
The basest weed out-braves his dignity;
For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;
Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.
XCIV. The poet, in the preceding Sonnet, had set forth the possibility of his friend being false at heart, although his countenance should give no indication of unfaithfulness. But the ability to restrain the expression of emotion, and not to publish to the world by changes of countenance the thoughts and feelings of the heart, may be regarded as a virtue, or at least as a valuable endowment. Persons of this temperament isolate themselves, it is true; but this
does not destroy their virtue. The flower is still sweet whose sweetness is wasted on the desert air. But such virtue when corrupted acquires an odour far ranker than that of undisguised profligacy or unrestrained passion.
1. Have power to hurt and will do none. Are not impetuous and passionate.
"Thou hast been
As one, in suffering all, that suffers nothing;
A man that Fortune's buffets and rewards
Has ta'en with equal thanks; and blest are those
Whose blood and judgment are so well commingled
That they are not a pipe for Fortune's finger
To sound what stop she please."
Shakespeare, himself perhaps very sensitive and quickly moved, may have
appreciated too highly a different kind of character. As to the corruption of such a character as that here described, compare the portraiture of Angelo in Measure for Measure.
6. They do not expend their energies in passionate outbursts.
7. They are the lords and owners of their faces. Not giving ready expression to emotion.
14. Fester. Corrupt. Persons of the character in question are colourless "lilies" rather than blushing roses. This line had previously appeared in Edward III., a play some have attributed in part to Shakespeare.
How to cite this article:
Shakespeare, William. Sonnets. Ed. Thomas Tyler. London: D. Nutt, 1890. Shakespeare Online. 28 Dec. 2013. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/94.html >.
Did You Know? ... For over 400 years The Reign of King Edward III has been classified as an anonymous play by everyone but a handful of renegade critics.
First printed in 1596 by the London bookseller and publisher, Cuthbert Burby, the play's title page told Elizabethan readers that "it hath bin sundrie times plaied about the Citie of London", but Burby credited no author. The play likely was very successful at the time, for Burby published another edition in 1599, again without naming an author.
Sonnet Theories ... "All now agree that the Sonnets are a collection of almost matchless interest, a legacy from Shakespeare at once strange and precious, -- nothing less, in fact, than a preserved series of metrical condensations, weighty and compact as so many gold nuggets, of thoughts and feelings that were once in his mind. The interpretations of them collectively, however, the theories of their nature and purport collectively, differ widely." David Masson. Read on...