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Whilst I alone did call upon thy aid,
My verse alone had all thy gentle grace,
But now my gracious numbers are decay'd
And my sick Muse doth give another place.
I grant, sweet love, thy lovely argument
Deserves the travail of a worthier pen,
Yet what of thee thy poet doth invent
He robs thee of and pays it thee again.
He lends thee virtue and he stole that word
From thy behavior; beauty doth he give
And found it in thy cheek; he can afford
No praise to thee but what in thee doth live.
   Then thank him not for that which he doth say,
   Since what he owes thee thou thyself dost pay.


LXXIX. Mentions more expressly a single rival, to whom, it is alleged, Mr. W. H. is under no obligation whatever, while Shakespeare's verse meanwhile suffers; his Muse is "sick."

2. Thy gentle grace. Thy gentle and gracious influence.

5. Thy lovely argument. The subject of thy beauty.

7. Thy poet. That is, the rival of Shakespeare. What of thee. What concerning thee.

8-10. Notice the derogatory expressions robs and stole. Virtue -- behaviour. Cf. lxx., especially lines 8-10, as to Mr. W. H.'s "virtue."

How to cite this article:
Shakespeare, William. Sonnets. Ed. Thomas Tyler. London: D. Nutt, 1890. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2013. < >.

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Do You Agree? ... "The theory that the Sonnets are mere exercises of fancy, "the free outcome of a poetic imagination," as Delius phrases it, is easy and specious at first, but lands us at last among worse perplexities than it evades. That Shakespeare, for example, should write seventeen sonnets urging a young man to marry and perpetuate his family is strange enough, but that he should select such a theme as the fictitious basis for seventeen sonnets is stranger yet; and the same may be said of the story or stories apparently underlying other of the poems." W. J. Rolfe. Read on....


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