So is it not with me as with that muse,Stirred by a painted beauty to his verse,Who heav’n itself for ornament doth use,And every fair with his fair doth rehearse—Making a couplement of proud compareWith sun and moon, with earth and sea’s rich gems,With April’s first-born flow’rs, and all things rareThat heaven’s air in this huge rondure hems.O let me, true in love but truly write,And then believe me: my love is as fairAs any mother’s child, though not so brightAs those gold candles fixed in heaven’s air.Let them say more that like of hearsay well;I will not praise that purpose not to sell.
Shakespeare Sonnet 21 Analysis
Shakespeare describes his reaction to his muse “is it not with me as with that muse” saying he isn’t like other poets that praise women because of their makeup “painted beauty to his verse”. He compares her to an ornament made for decorating heaven “heav’n itself for ornament doth use” and says that she is as beautiful as all beautiful things on earth “every fair with his fair doth rehearse”
He regards his muse also his love as a true subject to be compared “couplement of proud compare” with the beauty of the sun, moon and the gems of the sea “with earth and sea’s rich gems” with the flowers of spring “April’s first-born flowers” and with rare objects “all things rare” and precious things in the world and heaven “heaven’s air”
since his love is true “true in love” he will write only the truth and which people should believe “ believe me” when he says his lover is beautiful “my love is as fair” like any other human being “any mother’s child” but not as beautiful as the stars in heaven “gold candles fixed in heaven’s air”.
He then says those who like gossip can keep on discussing “say more that like of hearsay well; he will not waste his time trying to praise anything “will not praise” as he isn’t selling anything “that purpose not to sell”.