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William Shakespeare, Sonnet xxviii

How can I then return in happy plight,
That am debarr'd the benefit of rest?
When day's oppression is not eas'd by night,
But day by night and night by day oppress'd?
And each, though enemies to either's reign,
Do in consent shake hands to torture me,
The one by toil, the other to complain
How far I toil, still farther off from thee.
I tell the day, to please him, thou art bright,
And dost him grace when clouds do blot the heaven:
So flatter I the swart-complexion'd night;
When sparkling stars twire not, thou gild'st the even. [*]
But day doth daily draw my sorrows longer,
And night doth nightly make grief's strength seem stronger.


line 12: Twire: Malone proposed to read twirl, and Steevens conjectured that twire means quire. Gifford, in a note upon Ben Jonson's 'Sad Shepherd', explains that in the passage before us the meaning is "when the stars do not gleam or appear at intervals". He adds, "Twire should not have been suffered to grow obsolete, for we have no word now in use that can take its place, or be considered as precisely synonymous with it in sense: leer and twinkle are merely shaes of it." Gifford quotes several passages from Jonson and Beaumont and Fletcher in confirmation of his opinion. But there are four lines in Drayton's 'Polyolbion' which contain a parallel use of the word:

"Suppose 'twixt noon and night the sun is half-way wrought,
(The shadows to be large, by his descending brought,)
Who with a fervent eye looks through the twiring glades,
And his dispersed rays commixeth with the shades."
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Most notes to Shakespeare's sonnets are from Charles Knight's edition, but those in square brackets are mine.