O, for my sake do you with Fortune chide,
The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds,
That did not better for my life provide,
Than public means which public manners breeds.
Thence comes it that my name receives a brand,
And almost thence my nature is subdu'd
To what it works in, like the dyer's hand:
Pity me then and wish I were renew'd;
Whilst, like a willing patient, I will drink
Potions of eysell, 'gainst my strong infection;
No bitterness that I will bitter think,
Nor double penance, to correct correction.
Pity me then, dear friend, and I assure ye
Even that your pity is enough to cure me.
CXI. The allusions in this Sonnet to Shakespeare's profession as an actor are not to be doubted. To this cause the poet attributes his errors. Poverty, compelling him to gain a livelihood by catering for public entertainment, was the source of his faults and of the scandal which they had occasioned. He would fain, at almost any cost, purify himself from the stain. He deserves to be pitied by his friend, rather than to be blamed.
1. With. Q. "wish."
4. Publick manners. Implying vulgar, low, and probably disreputable
8. Renew' d. Thoroughly changed.
10. Eysell. Vinegar, a well-known supposed disinfectant. But here the
idea is of a medicine to arrest and neutralise disease and corruption within.
12. To correct correction. To complete and perfect the correction of my
conduct. Similarly we say, "To make assurance doubly sure."
14. Implying probably that the cause of offence, whatever it may have
been, was superficial, and not deeply seated in Shakespeare's nature.
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/111.html >.
Did You Know?... No one knows for certain how Shakespeare first started his career in the theatre, although several London players would visit Stratford regularly, and so, sometime between 1585 and 1592, it is probable that young Shakespeare could have been recruited by the Leicester's or Queen's men. Whether an acting troupe recruited Shakespeare in his hometown or he was forced on his own to travel to London to begin his career, he was nevertheless an established actor in the great city by the end of 1592. In this year came the first reference to Shakespeare in the world of the theatre. Read on...