Shakespeare Sonnet 79 Analysis, Whilst I alone did call upon thy aid

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This is a short summary of Shakespeare sonnet 79. 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 79 (Original Text)

Whilst I alone did call upon thy aid,
My verse alone had all thy gentle grace,
But now my gracious numbers are decayed,
And my sick muse doth give another place.
I grant, sweet love, thy lovely argument
Deserves the travail of a worthier pen,
Yet what of thee thy poet doth invent
He robs thee of and pays it thee again.
He lends thee virtue, and he stole that word
From thy behavior; beauty doth he give
And found it in thy cheek; he can afford
No praise to thee but what in thee doth live.
Then thank him not for that which he doth say,
Since what he owes thee thou thyself dost pay.
WIKI

Shakespeare Sonnet 79 Modern Text (Translation)

Shakespeare sonnet 79 Modern text, translation

Shakespeare Sonnet 79 Analysis

The poet says that when he alone “Whilst I alone did call” used the fair youth for inspiration, “upon thy aid,” his poetry was good and graceful “My verse alone had all thy gentle grace” but now the poems that he writes with his inspiration have deteriorated and he now has to allow someone else to take his place “But now my gracious numbers are decayed”

Addressing the youth as his sweet love “I grant, sweet love” he admits and concedes the youth accusation “thy lovely argument” that a subject as lovely as the youth deserves a better writer “Deserves the travail of a worthier pen,” but whatever the new poet says “Yet what of thee thy poet” of the fair youth, he only steals ideas from him “doth invent” and returns it back through his verse “He robs thee of and pays it thee again.”

The new poet may call the fair youth virtuos “He lends thee virtue” but he has only learned the word “and he stole that word” by observing his behavior, “ From thy behavior” he calls the youth beautiful “beauty doth he give” but he has only observed the beauty from his face, “And found it in thy cheek” the new poet has no original praise to offer “he can afford No praise to thee” except what is already there in the face of the youth “but what in thee doth live”

He then tells the youth not to thank the new poet “Then thank him not” for what he says about the youth “for that which he doth say” because what he writes about the youth is actually from the ideas the youth gives him “Since what he owes thee thou thyself dost pay”

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