Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day,
And make me travel forth without my cloak,
To let base clouds o’ertake me in my way,
Hiding thy bravery in their rotten smoke?
‘Tis not enough that through the cloud thou break,
To dry the rain on my storm-beaten face,
For no man well of such a salve can speak
That heals the wound and cures not the disgrace:
Nor can thy shame give physic to my grief;
Though thou repent, yet I have still the loss:
The offender’s sorrow lends but weak relief
To him that bears the strong offence’s cross.
Ah! but those tears are pearl which thy love sheds,
And they are rich and ransom all ill deeds.
This is linked closely to the previous sonnet in thought and language. The offence referred to may be a neglect or denial by the youth of any attachment to his friend, despite having given him assurances that he was committed to enduring love. Hence the beauteous day which was promised, encouraging the poet to cast away the cloak of defensive secrecy. A denial of friendship appears to call forth the language of the Gospels through association of the experience with Peter’s denial of Christ. This was followed by Peter’s repentance and sorrow, and indeed tears, as here. Matt.26. 31-4, 74-5. Mark 14.30, Luke 22.61-2.
The link may be tenuous, but Shakespeare does in his plays use NT allusions as a subtle, oblique comment on situations that have arisen. Such a bold step is not without parallel in the Sonnets, as e.g. in 108
but yet, like prayers divine,
I must each day say o’er the very same;
Counting no old thing old, thou mine, I thine,
Even as when first I hallowed thy fair name.
where the echoing of the Lord’s Prayer is obvious. (Further details in the commentary below ll 10-12).
Leave a Reply