Lord of my love, to whom in vassalageThy merit hath my duty strongly knit,To thee I send this written embassage,To witness duty, not to show my wit.Duty so great, which wit so poor as mineMay make seem bare, in wanting words to show it,But that I hope some good conceit of thineIn thy soul’s thought, all naked, will bestow it.Till whatsoever star that guides my movingPoints on me graciously with fair aspéctAnd puts apparel on my tattered loving,To show me worthy of thy sweet respect.Then may I dare to boast how I do love thee;Till then, not show my head where thou mayst prove me.
Shakespeare Sonnet 26 Analysis
Shakespeare addresses the youth as his lord “lord of my love” saying he is his servant “whom in vassalage”. The youths value “Thy merit” is what makes him serve so loyally “duty strongly knit,” and that he is sending him a message “send this written ambassage,” to prove his loyalty and not to impress with his words “witness duty, not to show my wit.”
His sense of duty is so great “Duty so great,” that even he cannot find the right words “wit so poor as mine” to express it thus making it seem as if he isn’t actually doing anything at all “make seem bare, in wanting words to show it.” He hopes the youth will form an opinion of him “some good conceit of thine” in his heart, which will make him realize “will bestow it” how much the poet is devoted to him
He says till the star that rules his destiny “whatsoever star that guides my moving,” shines favorably on him and shows his devotion in a favorable light “apparel on my tattered loving,” making him worthy of the youth’s respect “worthy of thy sweet respect:”
Then he can boast “ I dare to boast” about how much he loves the youth “how I do love thee,” but till that happens he will keep a low profile “Till then not show my head” in case the youth decides to test him “thou may’st prove me. “