View Full Version : Sonnet #99

11-06-2006, 10:00 AM
Sonnet #99


The forward violet thus did I chide:
Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells,
If not from my love's breath? The purple pride
Which on thy soft cheek for complexion dwells
In my love's veins thou hast too grossly dyed.
The lily I condemned for thy hand,
And buds of marjoram had stol'n thy hair:
The roses fearfully on thorns did stand,
One blushing shame, another white despair;
A third, nor red nor white, had stol'n of both
And to his robbery had annex'd thy breath;
But, for his theft, in pride of all his growth
A vengeful canker eat him up to death.
More flowers I noted, yet I none could see
But sweet or colour it had stol'n from thee.

More... (http://www.sonnetaday.com)

11-17-2006, 09:27 AM
The central conceit of 104 is at once brilliant and absurd: a condemnation of flowers, for theft of the loved one's attributes. What modern poet or person would even think to "chide" a violet? Or gloat that a rose, for its presumption, will by a "vengeful canker" be eaten up to death? We don't--we modern people--think like this, we stand in a different relation to the natural world. But for Shakespeare, the "forward" violet and the larcenous lilly, the marjoram and the three types of roses: red, white, and "mingled damask" constitute a spectacle that, like Jacques' deer in As You Like It, can be "moralized" as readily as any human action.