Colin Burrow (ed.), The Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Sonnets and Poems
pg 656 pg 657 138
- Editor’s Note1When my love swears that she is made of truth,
- Editor’s Note2I do believe her though I know she lies,
- Editor’s Note3That she might think me some untutored youth,
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus4Unlearnèd in the world's false subtleties.
- Editor’s Note5Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus6Although she knows my days are past the best,
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus7Simply I credit her false-speaking tongue.
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus8On both sides thus is simple truth suppressed:
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus9But wherefore says she not she is unjust?
- 10And wherefore say not I that I am old?
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus11O, love's best habit is in seeming trust,
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus12And age in love loves not to have years told.
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus13 Therefore I lie with her, and she with me,
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus14 And in our faults by lies we flattered be.
1 made of truth composed of fidelity
3 That so that
untutored 'Uneducated, untaught; simple, unsophisticated' (OED, which offers the dedication to Lucrece and 3 Henry VI (True Tragedy) 5.5.32 as earliest citations).
4 Unlearnèd … subtleties] q; Vnskilfull … forgeries o1
4 false subtleties cunning deceptions. False also implies sexual infidelity (Schmidt, 6), as it does in 20.4.
5 vainly unreasonably, without any effect. The sense 'With personal vanity; conceitedly' (OED 3) is emerging c. 1600, but there is no clear Shakespearian parallel for such a usage (All's Well 5.3.122–4 plays on 'vanity' and 'vainly': 'My fore-past proofs … | Shall tax my fears of little vanity, | Having vainly feared too little.')
6 she … are] q; I know my yeares be o1; I know my yeres are fol9
6 my days are past their best When the poem was first printed in 1599 Shakespeare was 35. 'Youth' has no fixed limit in the period, but according to many of the established divisions of the ages of man Shakespeare would still have counted as a youth by this date. See 7.6 n. For ageing sonneteers, see 104.3 n.
7 Simply I] q; I smiling, o1
7 Simply (a) straightforwardly, artlessly; (b) unconditionally; (c) stupidly, like a simpleton (OED 5; although not otherwise used by Shakespeare in this sense)
8 On … suppressed] q; Outfacing faults in Loue, with loues ill rest o1
8 suppressed (a) left unexpressed (OED 4); (b) kept secret (OED 3a)
9 she … unjust] q; my Loue that she is young o1
9 wherefore why
unjust sexually unfaithful. The usage develops OED 2, 'Not upright or free from wrongdoing; faithless, dishonest', and is paralleled in P. Pilgrim 18.21, where it also rhymes with 'trust'.
11 habit is in seeming trust] q; habit's in an soothing tongue o1; habit is a soothing tongue o2; habit is a smoothinge tongue fol9
11 O, love's … trust 'O the best dress for love is the appearance of mutual fidelity.' This answers the questions of the previous lines.
12 to have] o1; t'haue q
12 age personified: aged people
told (a) counted; (b) publicly revealed. Cf. suppressed, l. 8 above.
13 I … she] q; Ile lye with Loue, and Loue o1
14 And … flattered] q (flattered i.e. flattered); Since that our faults in Loue thus smother'd be o1
14 And in … be And through our sins and weaknesses we are delightfully misled. Faults covers both the act of lying together (and with others) and their reluctance to perceive the truth. Flattered means both 'beguiled' and 'pleased'.