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Against that time, if ever that time come,
When I shall see thee frown on my defects,
When as thy love hath cast his utmost sum,
Call'd to that audit by advis'd respects;
Against that time when thou shalt strangely pass
And scarcely greet me with that sun thine eye,
When love, converted from the thing it was,
Shall reasons find of settled gravity;
Against that time do I insconce me here
Within the knowledge of mine own desert,
And this my hand against myself uprear,
To guard the lawful reasons on thy part:
   To leave poor me thou hast the strength of laws,
   Since, why to love, I can allege no cause.


XLIX. The previous Sonnet had contemplated the possibility of a rival superseding the poet in his friend's affections. The desertion which would then ensue would imply, however, no unjustifiable fickleness. When the poet's merits and faults are summed up, the faults may well seem to preponderate. He can, indeed, find in himself no reason why he should be loved.

3. Whenas. When the time comes that. Hath cast his utmost sum. Has made up and balanced the account.

4. Advis'd respects. "Reasons of settled gravity" (line 8), "lawful reasons" (12).

10. Desert. Q. "desart" rhyming with "part."

12. To guard, &c. As a witness of the justice and propriety of such a course.

13. The strength of laws. Perfect legal right in taking this course.

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

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Points to Ponder... "I don't think it matters much who "W. H." was. The great question is, do Shakspere's Sonnets speak his own heart and thoughts or not? And were it not for the fact that many critics really deserving the name of Shakespeare students, and not Shakespeare fools, have held the Sonnets to be merely dramatic, I could not have conceived that poems so intensely and evidently autobiographic and self-revealing, poems so one with the spirit and inner meaning of Shakspere's growth arid life, could ever have been conceived to be other than what they are, the records of his own loves and fears. And I believe that if the acceptance of them as such had not involved the consequence of Shakespeare's intrigue with a married woman, all readers would have taken the Sonnets as speaking of Shakespeare's own life. But his admirers are so anxious to remove every stain from him, that they contend for a non-natural interpretation of his poems." (F.J. Furnivall. The Leopold Shakespeare, p.72.)


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