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Shakespeare Sonnet 92: "But do thy worst to steal thyself away"

The Shakespeare sonnets play an essential rôle in my poetry world. Those 154 classic sonnets masterfully dramatize truth, beauty, and love.

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford - the real "Shakespeare"

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford - the real "Shakespeare"

Text and Paraphrase of Sonnet 92: "But do thy worst to steal thyself away"

In sonnet 92 from the classic Shakespeare 154-sonnet sequence, the speaker avows his unity with the soul force yet still holds back with an agnostic possibility that he might be mistaken, though he is certain he is not.

Sonnet 92: "But do thy worst to steal thyself away"

But do thy worst to steal thyself away
For term of life thou art assured mine;
And life no longer than thy love will stay,
For it depends upon that love of thine.
Then need I not to fear the worst of wrongs,
When in the least of them my life hath end.
I see a better state to me belongs
Than that which on thy humour doth depend:
Thou canst not vex me with inconstant mind,
Since that my life on thy revolt doth lie.
O! what a happy title do I find,
Happy to have thy love, happy to die:
But what ’s so blessed-fair that fears no blot?
Thou mayst be false, and yet I know it not.

The following is a rough paraphrase of sonnet 92:

Though you hide from me constantly, I know you will be with me for this entire lifetime. Your love and my life are equal. My life depends on your love and your love informs my life. Knowing the immortality of my soul, nothing can make me afraid, even the most evil this world has to offer. I realize that my own soul is more important than the moods I sometimes have to suffer. You cannot cause me affront though my mind tends to dither. Thus, I can be joyful that I have your love, and I can be joyful even if I die for you are immortal and eternal. Still, the purest being will fears showing some fault, and I confess I sometimes have my doubts.

Reading of Sonnet 92

Commentary

The speaker in this sonnet avows his unity with the soul force yet still holds back with an agnostic possibility that he might be mistaken, though he is certain he is not.

First Quatrain: Addresses His Own Soul

But do thy worst to steal thyself away
For term of life thou art assured mine;
And life no longer than thy love will stay,
For it depends upon that love of thine.

Addressing his soul, the speaker dramatizes his realization that is soul is an immortal being; thus, his own true self is immortal, despite his lack of complete awareness. The soul, he does realize, is made of love—Divine love. He understands that as long as his soul remains in his physical body, he will continue to live and perform his earthly duties. The speaker avers that he knows his life is connected to and therefore “depends up that love of thine.” The soul’s love is the life force that keeps his body animated and infuses his mind with the ability to cogitate and create.

Second Quatrain: Soul Awareness

Then need I not to fear the worst of wrongs,
When in the least of them my life hath end.
I see a better state to me belongs
Than that which on thy humour doth depend:

The speaker then reports that the result of his soul awareness and the understanding that his soul is pure divine love allows him to be able to remain brave in the face of “the worst of wrongs.” The speaker “see[s] a better state to me belongs” after his earthly, physical awareness ends and his unique spiritual awakening begins. He realizes that the pure, inviolate state of the soul that remains perpetually balanced does not experience the vicissitudes of mood and “humour.” The harmonious evenmindedness is a welcoming one for the speaker.

Third Quatrain: Chiding His Own Soul

Thou canst not vex me with inconstant mind,
Since that my life on thy revolt doth lie.
O! what a happy title do I find,
Happy to have thy love, happy to die:

The speaker then chides his soul that would never deign to “vex me with inconstant mind.” He knows that because his very life depends on the life force of his soul power, he is eternally bound to that soul force. Because of this cosmic unity, the speaker can rejoice that he is “Happy to have thy love, happy to die.” For even in death, he will be still united with that all-important soul love.

The Couplet: Only Human

But what ’s so blessed-fair that fears no blot?
Thou mayst be false, and yet I know it not.

The speaker then admits that he is still as yet only a human being who may not be able to swear that he “fears no blot.” The speaker finally offers a rather bland nod to his own soul, suggesting that he suspects that he could possibly be wrong in his guesses. However, if it does turn out that he is mistaken, it is because he is unable to realize his error.

The real ''Shakespeare"

The De Vere Society is dedicated to the proposition that the works of Shakespeare were written by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

The De Vere Society is dedicated to the proposition that the works of Shakespeare were written by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

The Secret Evidence of Who Wrote the Shakespeare Canon

© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes

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