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COMMENTARY

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 September 2010

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Summary

1. CREATURES: created things in general (and so including the ‘rose’): cf. 113. 10.

2. BEAUTY'S ROSE. Not the rose in the cheek of beauty, but the choicest flower of Beauty (personified: Introd. xi), the embodiment and symbol of perfection: cf. 109. 14, Hand. 3.1. 160 ‘the expectancy and rose of the fair state,’ Dunbar Gold. Targe 253 ‘O reverend Chaucer, rose of rhetors all!’ [For the italicised Rose of the Qto see Introd. xii (4).]

4. BEAR HIS MEMORY= either (1) carry on, or (2) sustain (play) the part of, its record (122. 2, cf. 63. 11, 81. 3).

5. CONTRACTED: affianced (or wedded); cf. 56. 10, 1 Hen. IV. 4. 2. 17 ‘contracted bachelors, such as had been ask'd twice on the banns,’ W. T. 4. 4. 401 ‘contract us ‘fore these witnesses,’ Haml. 3. 4. 46 ‘contraction’ (=marriage). For the thought cf. V. A. 157 ‘Is thine own heart to thine own face affected?’ [Not=limited, with sympathies (or outcome) restricted to.…] The ‘ bright eyes’ should be those of a wife, not’ thine own.'

6. FEED'ST…FUEL. The interpretation of ‘light's flame’ as his sight does not fit the next line. The ‘light’ is that which he sheds, the radiant beauty of his eyes, which is meanwhile eating up itself (1. 14, cf. 2. 8) by gazing solely on itself. He should keep it in existence (‘feed its flame’) by procreation. This is the text throughout the first sequence (cf. e.g. 4. 1–2).

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The Sonnets of Shakespeare
Edited from the Quarto of 1609
, pp. 79 - 230
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2009
First published in: 1924

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