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Shakespeare's Sonnets - Sonnet 86


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Shakespeare's Sonnets - Sonnet 86
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Sonnet 86



This final “rival poet” sonnet continues from s. 85 but echoes the imagery of s. 80. The poet explains that his silence is not from fear of his rival, but results from having nothing to write about, now that the rival’s verse has appropriated the beloved’s favor.

Was it the proud full sail of his great verse,
Bound for the prize of all-too-precious you,
That did my ripe thoughts in my brain inhearse,
4Making their tomb the womb wherein they grew?
Was it his spirit, by spirits taught to write
Above a mortal pitch, that struck me dead?
No, neither he, nor his compeers by night
8Giving him aid, my verse astonishèd.
He, nor that affable familiar ghost
Which nightly gulls him with intelligence,
As victors of my silence cannot boast;
12I was not sick of any fear from thence.
 But when your countenance filled up his line,
 Then lacked I matter; that enfeebled mine.