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When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see,
For all the day they view things unrespected;
But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,
And darkly bright are bright in dark directed;
Then thou, whose shadow shadows doth make bright,
How would thy shadow's form form happy show
To the clear day with thy much clearer light,
When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so?
How would, I say, mine eyes be blessed made
By looking on thee in the living day,
When in dead night thy fair imperfect shade
Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth stay?
   All days are nights to see till I see thee,
   And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.


XLIII. This Sonnet possibly begins a new group, but if the last four Sonnets were written while the poet was away from his friend, the absence continues. The poet's love for his friend transforms night into day and day into night. Darkness becomes bright when his friend's figure is seen in dreams, a figure which would add lustre to the clear daylight. How much, therefore, does he long to see his friend again. The days of absence are dark as night.

1. Wink. Close the eyes in sleep. Cf. Tempest, Act ii. sc. i, lines 284, 285:
"You, doing thus,
To the perpetual wink for aye might put
This ancient morsel!"
2. Unrespected. Without paying attention to them.

4. Darkly bright. Bright, though not seeing, the lids being closed. Bright in dark directed . Become bright through the vision of the loved image, when the eyes, though closed, are directed in the darkness. No other sense seems practicable. Cf. xxvii., where the sleepless eyes, open by night, are spoken of.

5. Whose shadow shadows doth make bright:
"Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous, and her old face new" (xxvii. 11, 12).
"Shadows" may represent either the darkness in general, or other dream-images (see line 3).

11. Thy. Q. "their." Imperfect, as being a mere insubstantial image.

How to cite this article:
Shakespeare, William. Sonnets. Ed. Thomas Tyler. London: D. Nutt, 1890. Shakespeare Online. 10 Jan. 2014. < >.

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Shakespeare's Treatment of Love... "For heights of poetic metaphysic we do not look in Shakespeare. He is one of the greatest of poets, and his poetry has less almost than any other the semblance of myth and dream; its staple is the humanity we know, its basis the ground we tread; what we call the prose world, far from being excluded, is genially taken in. And precisely where he is greatest, in the sublime ruin of the tragedies, love between the sexes has on the whole a subordinate place, and is there is most often fraught, as we have seen, with disaster and frustration." C. H. Herford. Read on....


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