William Shakespeare

Colin Burrow (ed.), The Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Sonnets and Poems

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pg 584 pg 585 102

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 strengthened by the passage of time
Editor’s Note
2 show outward appearance; also 'display, parade, ostentation' (Schmidt, 2)
Editor’s Note
3 merchandized made into commercial merchandise. Compare the proverb 'He praises who wishes to sell' (Dent P546).
Editor’s Note
4 publish make public, with a play on the modern sense of 'to distribute in print'
Editor’s Note
7–8 Philomel … his pipe Philomela, sister-in-law of Tereus, who raped her and cut out her tongue, is female both when in human form and when she turns into a nightingale. Nightingales sing in summer's front, that is at the start of the summer. It is probably the mention of a pipe which makes Shakespeare change her sex: for a moment Philomel becomes a character from a pastoral, where pipers are invariably male, and often are allegorical projections of their poets. The nightingale's metamorphosis back into her in l. 10 occurs when the context of pious nocturnal un happiness jogs Shakespeare into remembering her mythological past. Nocturnal hymn-singing tends to be a feminine activity in Shakespearian drama. Many editors emend his to her; a few brave souls suggest that Shakespeare may have been enough of an ornithologist to have known that only cock nightingales sing (and in Petrarch Rime Sparse 311, as well as in Barnabe Barnes's Parthenophil and Parthenophe 57.12–14, it is a male nightingale which laments). The inconsistency Illustrates Shakespeare's instinctive association of certain locales with particular genders.
Critical Apparatus
8 his] q; her conj. Housman in Rollins 2
Editor’s Note
8 growth of riper days as summer advances towards the fruitfulness of autumn
Editor’s Note
10 hush the night The night is presented as an enraptured and pious audience moved to silence by the nightingale's hymns.
Editor’s Note
11 But that but the reason is that. It is in parallel with Not that and introduces the explanation of why the nightingale is quiet later in the year.
wild music (a) unrestrained song; (b) frolicsome song; (c) the song of wild birds
burdens suggests the excessive fecundity of late summer. The noun 'burden' can mean 'chorus' (OED 10).
Editor’s Note
12 common too frequent; also perhaps with a reminiscence of earlier rebukes to the friend for making himself excessively common in the sense 'vulgar, open to the sexual advances of everyone', as at 69.14. There also may be a residue of criticism for the rival poets who continually produce wordy panegyrics which are devalued by their frequency. The whole line has a proverbial ring to it, but no precise parallel has been found.
Editor’s Note
14 dull bore you, blunt your appetite for song
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