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Shakespeare Sonnet 93

Poetry became my passion after I fell in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English class circa 1962.

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

Introduction and Text of Sonnet 93

Once again, this alert speaker finds a way to elevate his muse while at the same time, he is chiding her for not letting him know certain unknowable future movements. The speaker remains certain that his muse is a spiritual being, to whom he will always remain dependent for artistic inspiration. But he does not elevate her station to the point of mere praise and flattery.

It must be remembered that this sonneteer remains totally devoted to truth as he dramatizes beauty, but he also remains dedicated to accuracy, knowing that not all things on this earth can be deemed beautiful. This speaker has demonstrated many times that he can complain at the same time he praises, and his muse can remain a target at the same time she remains a praiseworthy inspiration.

Sonnet 93

So shall I live, supposing thou art true
Like a deceived husband; so love’s face
May still seem love to me, though alter’d new;
Thy looks with me, thy heart in other place:
For there can live no hatred in thine eye,
Therefore in that I cannot know thy change.
In many’s looks, the false heart’s history
Is writ in moods, and frowns, and wrinkles strange,
But heaven in thy creation did decree
That in thy face sweet love should ever dwell;
Whate’er thy thoughts or thy heart’s workings be,
Thy looks should nothing thence but sweetness tell.
How like Eve’s apple doth thy beauty grow,
If thy sweet virtue answer not thy show!

Reading of Sonnet 93

Commentary

Addressing his muse, the speaker professes that his art will continue to be infused with the permanent beauty and spiritual strength that the heavenly muse provides.

First Quatrain: Addressing the Muse

So shall I live, supposing thou art true
Like a deceived husband; so love’s face
May still seem love to me, though alter’d new;
Thy looks with me, thy heart in other place:

In the first quatrain of sonnet 93, the speaker addresses his muse, alerting her that he will henceforth pretend that he believes she will not forsake him. The speaker still chides her, insisting that he knows he will be like a deceived husband, but he nevertheless continues with his diversion. This clever speaker will continue to believe that his muse is true to him as he looks into her face of inspiration. Even when her endowment of motivation is alter’d new, that is changed, it is still better than dismissing her altogether.

The speaker will continue to retain her vision, even if her heart is in other place. The speaker knows that he is really the one who supplies the emotion, or heart, and the muse is only an aid, and sometimes a crutch, for acquiring a way of seeing.

Second Quatrain: Knowing No Hatred

For there can live no hatred in thine eye,
Therefore in that I cannot know thy change.
In many’s looks, the false heart’s history
Is writ in moods, and frowns, and wrinkles strange,

The speaker then avers that he can find no reason to reprimand the muse, who knows no hatred. With human beings, the speaker can read changes of mood in their physical face with its frowns, and wrinkles. The human will display moods easily read by those who take note, but the muse, being ethereal, can steal away as surreptitiously as she steals in.

While the speaker insists that he loves that quality of the muse, nevertheless, it sometimes perturbs him. After all, the speaker is still only human, even though his ambitions continuously run after so much that remains seemingly out of reach.

Third Quatrain: Optimistic Conviction

But heaven in thy creation did decree
That in thy face sweet love should ever dwell;
Whate’er thy thoughts or thy heart’s workings be,
Thy looks should nothing thence but sweetness tell.

But the speaker returns to his optimistic conviction that in the true face of his muse sweet love should ever dwell. This loving speaker knows that his own grumpiness is all he sees when he projects his foul moods upon his lovely muse.The muse is a reflection of heaven, and when the Divine created the muse, He placed perfection within the reach of the artist, who makes the effort to court her in earnest.

Regardless of the many projections the artist might cast out from his own tainted mood, the muse will remain constant. The artist must simply learn to discern his own failures to distinguish them from the inspirations of the muse.

The Couplet: Inspiration and Guidance

How like Eve’s apple doth thy beauty grow,
If thy sweet virtue answer not thy show!

If the muse’s beauty were an evanescent, rotting reality such as Eve’s apple, no artist could ever rely upon her for inspiration and guidance. This speaker, however, avows that sweet virtue belongs only to the spiritual union that the muse brings to the practicing artist, who sets his principles and goals on a lofty pedestal.

Evidence of Who Wrote the Shakespeare Canon

© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes

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