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Shakespeare Sonnet 69

Updated on May 12, 2020
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

Poetry became my passion, after I fell in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English class, circa 1962.

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

Source

Introduction and Text of Sonnet 69: "Those parts of thee that the world’s eye doth view"

The speaker in Sonnet 69 is concerned about the differences between the mind's ability to distinguish truth on the physical and spiritual levels. While the physical level may show outward beauty, the spiritual level possesses the true eternal nature of beauty.

While each human being maintains an outer and inner level of being, it is only those who can access the inner qualities of the heart and mind who truly live and retain the ability to create true art. It must be remembered that this speaker is ever focused on creating art—his sonnets, and thus he continues to elucidate all aspects of art from creation to criticism.

Sonnet 69: "Those parts of thee that the world’s eye doth view"

Those parts of thee that the world’s eye doth view
Want nothing that the thought of hearts can mend;
All tongues—the voice of souls—give thee that due,
Uttering bare truth, even so as foes commend.
Thy outward thus with outward praise is crown’d;
But those same tongues, that give thee so thine own,
In other accents do this praise confound
By seeing farther than the eye hath shown.
They look into the beauty of thy mind,
And that, in guess, they measure by thy deeds;
Then,—churls,—their thoughts, although their eyes were kind,
To thy fair flower add the rank smell of weeds:
But why thy odour matcheth not thy show,
The soil is this, that thou dost common grow.

Reading of Sonnet 69

Shakespeare Sonnet Titles


The Shakespeare Sonnet sequence does not feature titles for each sonnet; therefore, each sonnet's first line becomes the title. According to the MLA Style Manuel: "When the first line of a poem serves as the title of the poem, reproduce the line exactly as it appears in the text." APA does not address this issue.

The real "Shakespeare"

Source

Commentary

The speaker dramatizes the difference between inner and outer qualities of the human personality, with implications for the healing nature of art.

First Quatrain: Inner vs Outer Personality

Those parts of thee that the world’s eye doth view
Want nothing that the thought of hearts can mend;
All tongues—the voice of souls—give thee that due,
Uttering bare truth, even so as foes commend.

In the first quatrain of sonnet 69, the speaker determines that the inner person is not the same as the outer physical appearance. The "heart" can "mend" any deficiency that exists in the beauty and grace of the physical body.

The "voice of souls" uplifts the person who might be rebuked by "foes." Critics who may be "[u]ttering bare truth" are more important than those who seek to nullify it. The heart represents love, while the "voice of souls" represents wisdom; neither is visible by outward senses, but both contend and accomplish without fanfare.

Second Quatrain: Outward Praise Nothing Special

Thy outward thus with outward praise is crown’d;
But those same tongues, that give thee so thine own,
In other accents do this praise confound
By seeing farther than the eye hath shown.

When the outward is "with outward praise" "crown’d," nothing special is gained. Outward beauty degenerates with time, but inner beauty can grow and become even more beautiful over time. All the wagging "tongues" cannot add or detract from inner soul beauty. This speaker has always been more interested and intrigued by the spiritual level of being. He is appalled at the degeneration of the physical level.

The eye is capable of detecting only the outward, mutable appearance, but the heart and soul are more significant than the physical eye because they are capable of "seeing farther than the eye." The reader will remember that this speaker believes that the human personality flowers through creativity.

Third Quatrain: Unworthy Praise

They look into the beauty of thy mind,
And that, in guess, they measure by thy deeds;
Then,—churls,—their thoughts, although their eyes were kind,
To thy fair flower add the rank smell of weeds:
But why thy odour matcheth not thy show,
The soil is this, that thou dost common grow.

The heart and soul are capable of "look[ing] into the beauty of [the] mind." With such perception, they are able to take "measure of thy deeds." The unreliable adulation of popular criticism based on outward appearance is unworthy and offers no truth. And churlish critics can even distort what they see outwardly and "[t]o [a] fair flower add the rank smell of weeds."

The Couplet: Comprehending Truth

But why thy odour matcheth not thy show,
The soil is this, that thou dost common grow.

Those who fail to grasp the spiritual level of the human personality, especially in the artist, do not "matcheth" or understand the level of truth revealed in the creative works of spiritual artists.

Instead of offering true growth, the superficial viewers negate all art to dirt. They engage in a level of blather that inserts a common denominator into the human personality, while keeping the mind bound to the physical level that is filled with the pain of the temporary. Only at the soul level can consciousness reach infinity. The human personality is capable of reaching that level but remains hide-bound when engaged in too much reliance on the physical senses.

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

| Source

Roger Stritmatter – He Who Takes the Pain to Pen the Book: The Poetry of the 17th Earl of Oxford

© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes

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