On the Literary Genetics of Shakspere's Poems & Sonnets

By T. W. Baldwin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
The Sin of Dumb Truth

SERIES IV: SONNETS LXXVIII-XCIX

Sonnet LXXVIII appears certainly to be addressed to the beauteous youth. The poet says (1) that he has so frequently been aided by invoking the friend as his Muse that now every alien pen is dispersing its poesy under the friend. (2) The friend's eyes, which have taught the dumb and ignorant (poet) to sing aloft, have also added feathers to the learned's wings, giving grace double majesty. (3) Yet the friend should be most proud of the poet's accomplishments, since they are wholly from the friend's inspiration, while in the works of others the friend only mends the style, gracing Art.

(4) But thou art all my art, and dost advance
As high as learning, my rude ignorance.

This sonnet should indicate in the line

So oft have I invok'd thee for my Muse

that it was written a considerable time after the beginning of the connection between friend and poet.

Sonnet LXXIX continues the idea of the preceding by pointing out that (1) while the poet alone called upon the friend as Muse his verse alone had all the friend's grace; but now the poet's sick Muse gives place to another. (2) The lovely friend deserves the efforts of a worthier pen. Yet whatever "thy Poet" invents concerning the friend, he merely steals it from the friend in the first place and then returns it, (3) such as virtue from his behavior, beauty from his cheek, all his praise.

(4) Then thank him not for that which he doth say,
Since what he owes thee, thou thyself dost pay.

Sonnet LXXX continues the idea of the preceding. (1) The poet is fearful when he writes of the friend, knowing that a "better spirit" uses all his might to praise that name in order to make the poet tongue-tied. (2) But since the friend's worth, like the wide ocean bears all sails, the poet launches his saucy bark upon it, though far

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