William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Elizabethan Verse. 1907. Beauty and Rhyme
By William Shakespeare (15641616)
W HEN 1 in the chronicle of wasted time
I see descriptions of the fairest wights,
And beauty making beautiful old rime
In praise of Ladies dead and lovely Knights;
Then, in the blazon of sweet beautys best, 5
Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow,
I see their antique pen would have exprest
Even such a beauty as you master 2 now.
So all their praises are 3 but prophecies
Of this our time, all you prefiguring; 10
And for they looked but with divining eyes,
They had not skill enough your worth to sing:
For we, who now behold these present days, Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise.
Sonnet cvi. Note 1. Shake-speares Sonnettes, 1609. The poet gazes backward on the famous persons of former ages, men and women, his friend being possessor of the united perfections of both man and woman. (Dowden.) [ back] Note 2. Master: possess, own as a master. So King Henry V., act ii. sc. 4, 137:
Youll find a difference
* * * * *
Between the promise of his greener days
And these he masters now.
Note 3. So all their praises are: Compare Constables Sonnets from Todds MS., vii. (not Diana as Prof. Dowden has it).Schelling.
Miracle of the world I never will deny
That former poets praise the beauty of their days;
But all those beauties were but figures of thy praise,
And all those poets did of thee but prophecy.