Colin Burrow (ed.), The Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Sonnets and Poems
pg 652 pg 653 136
- Editor’s Note1If thy soul check thee that I come so near,
- Critical Apparatus2Swear to thy blind soul that I was thy Will,
- Editor’s Note3And will, thy soul knows, is admitted there:
- Editor’s Note4Thus far for love my love-suit sweet fulfil.
- Editor’s Note5Will will fulfil the treasure of thy love,
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus6Ay, fill it full with wills, and my will one.
- Editor’s Note7In things of great receipt with ease we prove
- Editor’s Note8Among a number one is reckoned none;
- Editor’s Note9Then in the number let me pass untold,
- Editor’s Note10Though in thy store's account I one must be;
- Editor’s Note11For nothing hold me, so it please thee hold
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus12That nothing me, a something sweet to thee.
- 13 Make but my name thy love, and love that still,
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus14 And then thou lov'st me for my name is Will.
1 check (a) reprimand (OED 11); (b) arrest, stop (OED 3)
come so near (a) touch you to the quick (Schmidt, s.v. 'near' 4: 'touching, interesting one's intellect or feelings, coming home to one', sometimes with an erotic flavour, as when Malvolio muses, 'Maria once told me she [Olivia] did affect me, and I have heard herself come thus near, that should she fancy it should be one of my complexion', Twelfth Night 2.5.22–5); (b) move physically close to you
2 Will] q (Will; also italicized in 5 and 14)
3 there Will is admitted into the soul to communicate with it; also 'Will' is allowed into your body.
4 Thus far … fulfil The lack of pointing follows Q. Some editors put commas before and after sweet, marking it as a vocative. Q allows for this possibility, as well as allowing sweet to function as an adjective agreeing with 'love-suit' and perhaps too as an adverb (OED B 1) with 'fulfil'.
6 Ay] q (I)
6 my will one (a) my will alone; (b) and my will being one of the many who are allowed to fill up your treasury of love
7 of great receipt with a great capacity (OED s.v. 'receipt' 15a). The argument here is that 'your sexual organs are like a large exchequer or treasure chest in which a Single thing is not worth counting; therefore let me in without telling anyone or counting me as part of the tally'.
7 prove demonstrate, i.e. give practical illustration of the abstract mathematical principle that 'one is no number' by seeing a single item vanish into a huge store.
8 Among a number (a) among all the numbers only one is not properly speaking a number; (b) among a large number of entities a single one does not matter. That 'One is no number' is proverbial (Dent O52, 54), as in Marlowe's Hero and Leander l. 255 and 8.14 n.
9 untold (a) uncounted; (b) unrecorded (as a secret)
10 Though … be although I must be considered as part of your complete tally. Account may pun on 'cunt'.
11 hold … hold consider … physically grasp me
so provided that
12 nothing me] q; Nothing-me gildon; no-thing me ingram and redpath
something sweet] q (some-thing sweet); something (sweet) conj. Capell; something, sweet, ingram and redpath
12 That nothing … thee regard that inconsiderable thing that I am as sweet. Hold and something sweet all carry an erotic charge.
14 lov'st] sewell; louest q
14 my name is Will So it was, of course. Here, though, the poem approaches a popular riddle cited by Kerrigan, and blurs into anonymous ribaldry: 'My lover's will | I am content to fulfill; | Within this rhyme his name is framed; | Tell me then how he is named?' Will I am (William) is the answer.