Alack! what poverty my Muse brings forth,
That having such a scope to show her pride,
The argument all bare is of more worth
Than when it hath my added praise beside!
O, blame me not, if I no more can write!
Look in your glass, and there appears a face
That over-goes my blunt invention quite,
Dulling my lines and doing me disgrace.
Were it not sinful then, striving to mend,
To mar the subject that before was well?
For to no other pass my verses tend
Than of your graces and your gifts to tell;
And more, much more, than in my verse can sit,
Your own glass shows you when you look in it.
CIII. In the previous Sonnet had been set forth the thought that poetical eulogy and embellishment can add nothing to perfect truth and beauty. They are to be regarded rather as injurious. The thought here presented is essentially the same. And the concluding lines furnish an excuse for the poet's previous silence.
1. What poverty. What poor compositions.
2. To show her pride. To display the powers in which she exults.
3. The argument. The subject, i.e., the excellences of Mr. W. H.
7. Over-goes. Transcends. Blunt. Dull and crass, unable to deal with
a subject so exalted.
8. Dulling my lines, &c. Through the conscious lack of adequate
9, 10. Malone quotes from King Lear (Act i. sc. 4, line 369), "Striving
to better, oft we mar what's well."
11. To no other pass. To no other issue. The word here is probably
figurative, the metaphor being perhaps derived from the pass in fencing.
13. Sit. Be comprised.
How to cite this article:
Shakespeare, William. Sonnets. Ed. Thomas Tyler. London: D. Nutt, 1890. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2013. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/103.html >.
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