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I grant thou wert not married to my Muse,
And therefore mayst without attaint o'erlook
The dedicated words which writers use
Of their fair subject, blessing every book.
Thou art as fair in knowledge as in hue,
Finding thy worth a limit past my praise,
And therefore art enforc'd to seek anew
Some fresher stamp of the time-bettering days
And do so, love; yet when they have devis'd
What strained touches rhetoric can lend,
Thou truly fair wert truly sympathis'd
In true plain words by thy true-telling friend;
   And their gross painting might be better us'd
   Where cheeks need blood; in thee it is abus'd.


LXXXII. The poet admits that his friend could plead justification for showing some countenance to his rival. Mr. W. H. had never promised to exclude all others from his favour. Moreover, his merits were so great that he might well seek the aid of another poet to set them forth more fully. But there was thus a danger of flattery. Shakespeare claims the merit of faithfulness and truth.

1. Not married to my Muse. Dowden suggests, "His friend had perhaps alleged in playful self-justification that he had not married Shakspere's Muse, vowing to forsake all other, and keep only unto her."

3. Dedicated words. Taking into account the next line, which speaks, apparently, of "blessing" a book by lines in praise of Mr. W. H., the "fair subject," there is possibly reference to a dedication either actual or proposed.

5. On this line Professor Dowden says, "Shakespeare had celebrated his friend's beauty (hue); perhaps his learned rival had celebrated the patron's knowledge; such excellence reached 'a limit past the praise' of Shakespeare, who knew small Latin and less Greek." Subsequently, in the title to a Sonnet accompanying his translation of the Iliad, Chapman addressed Pembroke as "the Learned and Most Noble Patron of Learning," and the Sonnet celebrates Pembroke's "god-like learning."

6. Finding thy worth. If the view just given of the last line be accepted, then "finding thy worth" will be equivalent to "and thus findest thy worth."

8. Some fresher stamp, &c. Some poet whose method and diction are in better accord with the more advanced ideas of the times.

10. The verses of the rival-poet in praise of Mr. W. H. not being extant, it is impossible to say whether they surpassed those of Shakespeare in flattery and inflated praise, the "strained touches" of "rhetorick."

11. Sympathis'd. Implying that Shakespeare's verse came from the heart. Similarly the lines in Lucrece which have been compared,
"True sorrow then is feelingly suffic'd
When with like semblance it is sympathis'd."

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

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Sonnet Essentials... Shakespeare's sonnets are written predominantly in a meter called iambic pentameter, a rhyme scheme in which each sonnet line consists of ten syllables. The syllables are divided into five pairs called iambs or iambic feet. An iamb is a metrical unit made up of one unstressed syllable followed by one stressed syllable. An example of an iamb would be good BYE. Read on....


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