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Shakespeare Sonnet 67: "Ah! wherefore with infection should he live"

Updated on December 12, 2017
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After I fell in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English class, circa 1962, poetry became my passion.

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

The real "Shakespeare"
The real "Shakespeare" | Source

Introduction: Poets Must Also Serve as Critics

The speaker in Shakespeare sonnet 67 addresses the Cosmic Presence. He wants to underscore the incongruity of such a perfect talent as his existing in such a flawed world.

This creative and talented speaker may seem somewhat arrogant, yet he knows that his talent comes from the Perfect Eternal. Arrogance and truth may sometimes seem to remain in the eye of the beholder, but the outcome always justifies the one on the side of genuine truth.

Poets in every age have decried the presence of their inferiors. While true poets delight in those of equal or superior talent, they cringe at the poetasters who offer only a "shadow" art.

In four rhetorical questions, the speaker offers a spate of lucid criticism that describes vividly the annoyance rendered by the presence of the inferior spewings of literary charlatans and poetasters

The speaker in Shakespeare sonnet 67 addresses the Cosmic Presence. He wants to underscore the incongruity of such a perfect talent as his existing in such a flawed world.

This creative and talented speaker may seem somewhat arrogant, yet he knows that his talent comes from the Perfect Eternal. Arrogance and truth may sometimes seem to remain in the eye of the beholder, but the outcome always justifies the one on the side of genuine truth.

Poets in every age have decried the presence of their inferiors. While true poets delight in those of equal or superior talent, they cringe at the poetasters who offer only a "shadow" art.

In four rhetorical questions, the speaker offers a spate of lucid criticism that describes vividly the annoyance rendered by the presence of the inferior spewings of literary charlatans and poetasters.

Reading of Sonnet 67

First Quatrain: "Ah! wherefore with infection should he live"

The speaker poses his initial question: why should it be that this perfect being exist in a flawed, degenerate world? The presence of this talent "grace[s] impiety," and when "sin" associates itself with that talent, it gains "advantage."

Within this question, the reader can infer a range of possible reasons why the poetasters are permitted by the Vast Cosmic Artist.

Without the contrast of skillful vs clumsy, good art would not be visible or appreciated. Also, the competitive spirit winnows out the wheat from the shaft.

Second Quatrain: "Why should false painting imitate his cheek"

The speaker then asks, "Why are those with less talents be able to copy from him? Why should lesser poets be able to emulate his style, when he alone has the authentic style?

Although the speaker is annoyed that lesser lights are able to spark a flicker because of him, his question still reveals the drama that ensues from the dualities.

On the earth plane of existence, the dualities are always a fact to be reckoned with.

Third Quatrain: "Why should he live, now Nature bankrupt is"

The speaker then asks the question: "Why should this speaker even bother to care that others cause cataclysm with their dead parroting?"

The speaker understands well that the poetasters and fakers will ever remain with us, spewing out their doggerel and dreck.

And even as this talented speaker remains justifiably pleased and proud of his own creations and the talent that has helped him create them, he sculpts his criticism with an eye on the fact that he is actually injured by these charlatans and poetasters.

The Couplet: "O! him she stores, to show what wealth she had"

In the couplet, the speaker offers his answer: Nature depends on the true poet, the one of talent, and as long as the genuinely talented offer plenty of their creations, Nature can encompass the non-talented as well.

Nature will always be able to point to the true poet to "show what wealth she had." Even though art may degenerate through the activity of poetasters, true art will always be available as long as the true poet creates.

© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes

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