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

Updated on September 22, 2017
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After I fell in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English class, circa 1962, poetry became my passion.

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford


Shakespeare Sonnet Titles in My Article Titles

The Shakespeare Sonnet sequence does not feature titles for each sonnet; therefore, each sonnet's first line becomes the title. The rule according to the MLA style for citing an untitled poem's first line as the title is to place the first line in quotation marks and capitalize according to the way the line appears in the poem. Along with the number of the sonnet, this is the format I follow for titling my articles featuring the Shakespeare sonnet

Introduction: Paraphrase of Sonnet 92

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

First Quatrain: “But do thy worst to steal thyself away”

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: “Then need I not to fear the worst of wrongs”

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: “Thou canst not vex me with inconstant mind”

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: “But what’s so blessed-fair that fears no blot”

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.

© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes


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