Shakespeare Sonnet 103 Analysis: Alack, what poverty my muse brings forth

Shakespeare Sonnet 103 Analysis, Summary, theme and modern text translation

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This is a short summary of Shakespeare sonnet 103. Continue reading for complete analysis and meaning in the modern text. For the complete list of 154 sonnets, check the collection of Shakespeare Sonnets with analysis. It is highly recommended to buy “The Monument” by Hank Whittemore, which is the best book on Shakespeare Sonnets.

Shakespeare Sonnet 103 (Original Text)

Alack, what poverty my muse brings forth,
That having such a scope to show her pride,
The argument all bare is of more worth
Than when it hath my added praise beside!
O blame me not if I no more can write!
Look in your glass, and there appears a face
That overgoes my blunt invention quite,
Dulling my lines and doing me disgrace.
Were it not sinful then, striving to mend,
To mar the subject that before was well?
For to no other pass my verses tend
Than of your graces and your gifts to tell;
And more, much more than in my verse can sit
Your own glass shows you, when you look in it.
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Shakespeare Sonnet 103 Modern Text (Translation)

Shakespeare sonnet 103 Modern English translation

-via SparkNotes

Shakespeare Sonnet 103 Analysis

The poet criticizes himself saying he is a poor poet because his muse isn’t providing him inspiration “Alack, what poverty my muse brings forth, even though she has such a beautiful subject to create inspiration for poetry “That having such a scope to show her pride,” and that the subject being his beloved is worth much more “The argument all bare is of more worth” than the praise he adds through his poetry “Than when it hath my added praise beside!”

He says not to blame him if he can’t write anymore “O blame me not if I no more can write!”he tells his beloved to look into the mirror where he will see a reflection(a face) “Look in your glass, and there appears a face” that is intimidating to his skills as a poet “That overgoes my blunt invention quite,” which overshadows his poetry and makes it appear dull “Dulling my lines and doing me disgrace.”

He asks whether it would be a sin to try and redeem himself “Were it not sinful then, striving to mend,” and spoil the subject which was perfect before “To mar the subject that before was well?” But the only things he writes about “For to no other pass my verses tend” are the charms and graces of his beloved “Than of your graces and your gifts to tell;”

And his poetry cannot reflect more beauty than “And more, much more than in my verse can sit” what the mirror shows when his beloved looks into it “Your own glass shows you, when you look in it.”

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