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William Shakespeare, Sonnet lxxxix

Say that thou didst forsake me for some fault,
And I will comment upon that offence:
Speak of my lameness, and I straight will halt;
Against thy reasons making no defence.
Thou canst not, love, disgrace me half so ill,
To set a form upon desired change,
As I'll myself disgrace: knowing thy will,
I will acquaintance strangle, and look strange; [*]
Be absent from thy walks; and in my tongue
Thy sweet-beloved name no more shall dwell;
Lest I (too much profane) should do it wrong,
And haply of our old acquaintance tell.
For thee, against myself I'll vow debate,
For I must ne'er love him whom thou dost hate.


line 8: Strangle. Malone gives several examples of the use of the verb; and Steevens add, "This uncouth phrase seems to have been a favourite with Shakespeare." Why is any word called uncouth which expresses a meaning more clearly and forcibly than any other word? The miserable affectation of the last age, in rejecting words that in sound appeared not to harmonise with the mincing prettiness of polite conversation, emasculated our language; and it will take some time to restore it to its ancient nervousness. [ Back to text ]

Most notes to Shakespeare's sonnets are from Charles Knight's edition, but those in square brackets are mine.