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William Shakespeare, Sonnet cxii

Your love and pity doth the impression fill
Which vulgar scandal stamp'd upon my brow;
For what care I who calls me well or ill,
So you o'ergreen my bad, my good allow? [*]
You are my all-the-world, and I must strive
To know my shames and praises from your tongue;
None else to me, nor I to none alive,
That my steel'd sense or changes, right or wrong. [*]
In so profound abysm I throw all care
Of other's voices, that my adder's sense
To critic and to flatterer stopped are.
Mark how with my neglect I do dispese; --
You are so strongly in my purpose bred,
That all the world besides methinks are dead. [*]


line 4: Allow -- approve. [ Back to text ]

line 8: This passage is obscure, and there is probably some slight misprint. Steevens says, with his usual amenity, "The meaning of this purblind and obscure stuff seems to be -- 'You are the only person who has the power to change my stubborn resolution, either to what is right, or to what is wrong.'" We have little doubt that something like this is the meaning; but why has not this great conjectural critic, instead of calling out "purblind and obscure stuff", tried his hand at some slight emendation? He is venturous enough when the text is clear. We might read thus:

That my steel'd sense so changes right or wrong;
or we might read, as Malone has proposed, "E'er changes". [ Back to text ]

line 14: This line presents in the old copy one of the many examples of how little the context was heeded. We there find --

That all the world besides me thinks y' are dead
Malone changes this to --
That all the world besides methinks they are dead.
We adopt Mr Dyce's first reading. [ Back to text ]

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