Colin Burrow (ed.), The Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Sonnets and Poems
pg 584 pg 585 102
- Editor’s Note1My love is strengthened though more weak in seeming;
- Editor’s Note2I love not less, though less the show appear.
- Editor’s Note3That love is merchandized whose rich esteeming
- Editor’s Note4The owner's tongue doth publish everywhere.
- 5Our love was new, and then but in the spring,
- 6When I was wont to greet it with my lays,
- Editor’s Note7As Philomel in summer's front doth sing,
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus8And stops his pipe in growth of riper days:
- 9Not that the summer is less pleasant now
- Editor’s Note10Than when her mournful hymns did hush the night,
- Editor’s Note11But that wild music burdens every bough,
- Editor’s Note12And sweets grown common lose their dear delight.
- 13 Therefore, like her, I sometime hold my tongue,
- Editor’s Note14 Because I would not dull you with my song.
1 strengthened by the passage of time
2 show outward appearance; also 'display, parade, ostentation' (Schmidt, 2)
3 merchandized made into commercial merchandise. Compare the proverb 'He praises who wishes to sell' (Dent P546).
4 publish make public, with a play on the modern sense of 'to distribute in print'
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.
8 his] q; her conj. Housman in Rollins 2
8 growth of riper days as summer advances towards the fruitfulness of autumn
10 hush the night The night is presented as an enraptured and pious audience moved to silence by the nightingale's hymns.
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).
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.
14 dull bore you, blunt your appetite for song