Sonnet 125

Shakespeare. Sonnet 1

«Were ‘t aught to me I bore the canopy,
With my extern the outward honouring’».

For the poet, love is not a matter of external pride — that is, he is not interested in his rivals’ self-frustrating displays of false love (lines 1–2).

Sonnet 125
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Were ‘t aught to me I bore the canopy,
With my extern the outward honouring,
Or laid great bases for eternity,
Which prove more short than waste or ruining?
Have I not seen dwellers on form and favour
Lose all, and more, by paying too much rent,
For compound sweet forgoing simple savour,
Pitiful thrivers, in their gazing spent?
No, let me be obsequious in thy heart,
And take thou my oblation, poor but free,
Which is not mix’d with seconds, knows no art,
But mutual render, only me for thee.
Hence, thou suborn’d informer! a true soul
When most impeach’d stands least in thy control.

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The language here is philosophical, and the first quatrain suggests that the poet’s public homage to the youth means little to the poet. The second quatrain reflects on the rivals who hope to win the youth’s favor by sacrificing their imaginative resources on vain hopes. Playing off the image of tenants dwelling in their apartments and paying too much rent, the poet argues that his rivals for the youth’s affection are “pitiful thrivers” — achievers of “form and favor” rather than of any real substance. In the third quatrain, the poet’s offering to the youth is neither “mixed with seconds” nor “knows no art”; his affection for the youth is pure love, not like the artificial posturing of his rivals.

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English audio from YouTube Channel Socratica

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