Alas! 'tis true I have gone here and there
And made myself a motley to the view,
Gor'd mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear,
Made old offences of affections new.
Most true it is that I have look'd on truth
Askance and strangely: but, by all above,
These blenches gave my heart another youth,
And worse essays prov'd thee my best of love.
Now all is done; have what shall have no end:
Mine appetite I never more will grind
On newer proof, to try an older friend,
A god in love, to whom I am confin'd.
Then give me welcome, next my heaven the best,
Even to thy pure and most most loving breast.
CX. Continues the subject of the preceding Sonnet. The poet confesses that he had been in error, and that he had formed new acquaintance. But thus he had been led to prize still more highly his "older friend," Mr. W. H. The experience he thus had was sufficient, and he was determined never again to indulge in similar
1. I have gone here and there. Alluding possibly to journeys undertaken in pursuit of his theatrical profession.
2. And made myself a motley to the view. Whether Shakespeare had actually played the part of a fool or jester, a "motley" (cf. As You Like It, Act ii. sc. 7), is perhaps doubtful. The word may be here
used figuratively, in accord with what follows. Shakespeare may have "played the fool" by seeking new acquaintance.
3. Gor'd mine own thoughts. Meaning probably "wounded my self-respect." Sold cheap, &c. Made light of the love of my best friend.
4. Made old offences of affections new. Dowden interprets, "Entered into new friendships and loves, which were transgressions against my old love." But "old offences" may possibly be "enduring offences."
5. Truth here maybe pretty nearly equivalent to "virtue," though "fidelity" is a not improbable meaning.
6. Askance and strangely. As having parted acquaintance therewith. Q. "Asconce and strangely."
7. Blenches. Aberrations. Cf. "Sometimes you do blench from this to that," Measure for Measure, Act iv. sc. 5, line 3. Gave my heart another youth. The reaction ensuing restored my former state of mind.
8. Essays. Attempts at making new friends.
9. What shall have no end. That is, my love for you.
10, 11. I will not repeat the experiment (however successful it may have
been now) of trying an older friend, by "grinding my appetite" for his
love through the failure of other attempts at love and friendship.
13. To the most welcome refuge of all, next to heaven.
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/110.html >.
Did You Know?... In 1609 Thomas Thorpe published Shakespeare's sonnets, no doubt without the author's permission, in quarto format, along with Shakespeare's long poem, The Passionate Pilgrim. The sonnets were dedicated to a W. H., whose identity remains a mystery, although William Herbert, the Earl of Pembroke, is frequently suggested because Shakespeare's First Folio (1623) was also dedicated to him. Read on...