Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul
Of the wide world, dreaming on things to come,
Can yet the lease of my true love control,
Suppos'd as forfeit to a confin'd doom.
The mortal moon hath her eclipse endur'd,
And the sad augurs mock their own presage;
Incertainties now crown themselves assur'd,
And peace proclaims olives of endless age.
Now with the drops of this most balmy time
My love looks fresh, and Death to me subscribes,
Since, spite of him, I'll live in this poor rhyme,
While he insults o'er dull and speechless tribes:
And thou in this shalt find thy monument,
When tyrants' crests and tombs of brass are spent.
CVII. Just before, the poet had spoken of history as a prophecy of his friend. The idea of prophecy is continued, but it takes now a different turn and approximates to foreboding. Neither his own fears nor the general forebodings of mankind and the world-soul could have control over the love which bound him to his friend, even though this love should seem to have a limited term, like a lease about to be forfeited. Death itself is subject to the poet,
whose privilege it is to confer immortality.
l, 2. The prophetic soul of the wide world, dreaming on things to come.
With this passage, which is very important in relation to Shakespeare's
theology, cf. Richard III., Act ii. sc. 3, lines 41-44,
"Before the days of change still is it so;
By a divine instinct men's minds mistrust
Ensuing danger, as by proof we see
The water swell before a boisterous storm."
Brierre de Boismont says, in his work Des Hallucinations, ed. 1862, p.
43, "Il existe dans les masses populaires un instinct politique qui leur
fait pressentir les catastrophes des societes, comme un instinct naturel annonce d'avance aux animaux l'approche des bouleversements physiques."
5. The mortal moon. Taken by Massey and Minto, and with probable
correctness, as denoting Queen Elizabeth; but the eclipse cannot be the Queen's death. The emphasis evidently lies on the word "endur'd," and it would rather seem, as pointed out by Dowden, that the moon has passed
through her eclipse, and is again shining. With better reason, therefore, the reference may be supposed to be to the Rebellion of Essex.
6. The sad augurs will thus be those who had predicted the success of
8. Of endless age. With reference to the future.
9. This most balmy time. Written probably on a mild spring or early
summer day, with genial showers.
12. Dull and speechless tribes. That is, of the common dead.
14. Crests. Engraved on monumental tablets.
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/107.html >.
Not marble, nor the gilded monuments ... This opening line of Sonnet 55 is likely an allusion to the lavish tombs of English royalty; in particular, to the tomb of Henry VII in Westminster Abbey, which contains a large sarcophagus made of black marble with gilded effigies of King Henry and his queen, Elizabeth of York.