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So oft have I invok'd thee for my Muse,
And found such fair assistance in my verse,
As every alien pen hath got my use,
And under thee their poesy disperse.
Thine eyes, that taught the dumb on high to sing,
And heavy ignorance aloft to fly,
Have added feathers to the learned's wing,
And given grace a double majesty.
Yet be most proud of that which I compile,
Whose influence is thine and born of thee:
In others' works thou dost but mend the style,
And arts with thy sweet graces graced be;
   But thou art all my art and dost advance
   As high as learning my rude ignorance.


There is now a more distinct mention of the rivalry previously alluded to. Shakespeare, however, claims special regard from his friend and patron, alleging that, destitute of learning, his friend alone had inspired his verses.

3. As. -- That. It may be doubted whether the words "every alien pen" require us to suppose that Shakespeare had more than one rival in the favour of Mr. W. H. See lxxix. 4. Got my use. -- "Acquired my habit [of writing verse to you]." -- DOWDEN.

4. Under thee. -- Under thy auspices.

7. The learned's wing. -- To the wing of the poet's "learned" rival. The word "learned" suits very well the Greek scholar, Chapman.

8. A double majesty. An expression quite suitable if Shakespeare has in view Chapman's Homeric translation.

9. Compile. -- Compose.

10. Born of thee. -- Q. has "borne," and it is just possible that this may mean "supported and borne aloft by thee."

12, 13. Arts -- art. -- Maybe understood of "learning." Cf. lxvi. 9. But there is reference here to poetical style.

How to cite this article:
Shakespeare, William. Sonnets. Ed. Thomas Tyler. London: D. Nutt, 1890. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2013. < >.

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Sonnet Basics ... A sonnet is in verse form and has fourteen lines of iambic pentameter. Shakespeare's sonnets follow the pattern "abab cdcd efef gg", and Petrarch's sonnets follow the pattern "abba abba cdecde." All the lines in iambic pentameter have five feet, consisting of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one. For a more detailed look at iambic pentameter with examples, please click here.


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