William Shakespeare

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

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pg 476 pg 477 48

  • Editor’s Note1How careful was I, when I took my way,
  • Editor’s Note2Each trifle under truest bars to thrust,
  • 3That to my use it might unusèd stay
  • Editor’s Note4From hands of falsehood, in sure wards of trust?
  • Editor’s Note5But thou, to whom my jewels trifles are,
  • Editor’s Note6Most worthy comfort, now my greatest grief,
  • 7Thou best of dearest, and mine only care,
  • 8Art left the prey of every vulgar thief.
  • 9Thee have I not locked up in any chest,
  • Editor’s Note10Save where thou art not, though I feel thou art,
  • Editor’s Note11Within the gentle closure of my breast,
  • Editor’s Note12From whence at pleasure thou mayst come and part;
  • Editor’s Note13  And even thence thou wilt be stol'n, I fear:
  • Editor’s Note14  For truth proves thievish for a prize so dear.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 took my way set off on my journey
Editor’s Note
2 bars like a miser, the poet locks away everything in a safe-room.
thrust 'To press (objects) into a confined space; also, to fill (a space) densely; to crowd, cram' (OED 3c)
Editor’s Note
4 wards either 'Guardianship, keeping, control' (OED 2a) or (as l. 9 implies) 'that which secures a door; a bolt' (Schmidt, 7). It is Impossible here to separate physical security from dependable guardianship.
trust? Q's question mark is retained, although in early modern usage it could indicate an exclamation. This edition retains question marks at the end of rhetorical questions (as here), since such questions are very often subsequently assailed by the doubts which they seek emphatically to exclude (as happens in the next quatrain here). Exclamation marks are used sparingly, and only late on, in Q (92.12, 95.4, 123.1, 126.10, 148.1), and almost always to mark what are unequivocally exclamations ('No!' or 'O me!').
Editor’s Note
5 to whom (a) in comparison with whom; (b) for whom, in whose estimation
Editor’s Note
6 grief source of pain or anxiety
Editor’s Note
10 Save … art 'except where you are not in fact (though I think you are)'
Editor’s Note
11 gentle closure the lovingly mild confine. Closure means 'Bound, limit, circuit' (OED 1b), and can imply physical constriction, as it does in Richard III 3.3.10: 'Within the guilty closure of thy walls'. Compare Venus l. 782.
Editor’s Note
12 come and part come and go; although 'part' Is often used in love poetry of the period to mean 'separate'
Editor’s Note
13 even On this emphatic disyllabic use of 'even', see 35.5n.
Editor’s Note
14 For … dear For even truth becomes a thief for so rich a reward. Compare Venus l. 724, and the proverb 'The prey entices the thief' (Dent P570).
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