Shakespeare Sonnet 87 Analysis, Farewell, thou art too dear for my possessing

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This is a short summary of Shakespeare sonnet 87. 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 87 (Original Text)

Farewell, thou art too dear for my possessing,
And like enough thou know’st thy estimate.
The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing;
My bonds in thee are all determinate.
For how do I hold thee but by thy granting,
And for that riches where is my deserving?
The cause of this fair gift in me is wanting,
And so my patent back again is swerving.
Thyself thou gav’st, thy own worth then not knowing,
Or me, to whom thou gav’st it, else mistaking;
So thy great gift, upon misprision growing,
Comes home again, on better judgment making.
Thus have I had thee as a dream doth flatter:
In sleep a king, but waking no such matter.
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Shakespeare Sonnet 87 Modern Text (Translation)

Shakespeare sonnet 87 Modern text translation

-via SparkNotes

Shakespeare Sonnet 87 Analysis

The poet bids the fair lord goodbye saying that the youth is too valuable for him. “Farewell, thou art too dear for my possessing” He says the youth knows his true value “And like enough thou know’st thy estimate.” And the youth’s high value is enough to release himself from the relationship “The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing;” with the poet and that the poet’s ties with him are now all severed “My bonds in thee are all determinate.”

The poet now has now held over him except that which the youth will allow freely “For how do I hold thee but by thy granting,” and for such graces, the poet asks if he really deserves it. “And for that riches where is my deserving?” To receive such gifts, the poet has yet to do something deserving “The cause of this fair gift in me is wanting” and thus again he says that his rights over “And so my patent back again is swerving” the youth is being returned back to the youth “Thyself thou gav’st, thy own worth then not knowing,”

He says when the youth had entered in to a bond of friendship with the poet, he didn’t know his true worth “Thy self thou gavest, thy own worth then not knowing,” or that he was mistaken about the poets worth, “Or me, to whom thou gav’st it, else mistaking; which means the gift the youth gave to the poet, was through false assumption of the poet’s worth “So thy great gift, upon misprision growing,” and now the youth can break his bond with the poet because he is older with better judgment “Comes home again, on better judgment making.”

The poet then says that the time he spent with the youth was more like a dream “Thus have I had thee as a dream doth flatter” when asleep during the time when he thought he was a king but upon waking he found that was not true “In sleep a king, but waking no such matter.”

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