Analysis of Sonnet 79
This sonnet is the narrative a poet proclaiming the magnificence of his muse and his talentless use of her. The first line reads: “Whist I alone did call upon thy aid”, “Aid” here can take on several meanings for example: “help” or “a loan.” One definition that Shakespeare is noted as having coined according to the OED is “Anything by which assistance is given in performing an operation; anything helpful, a means or material source of help. esp. in pl. aids and appliances.” “1597 SHAKES. 2 Hen. IV, I. iii. 24 Surmise Of Aydes incertaine should not be admitted.” Help in the OED is also synonymous with relief, cure, and remedy a definition which was also utilized by Shakespeare in 1611 in his Winter’s Tale “What's gone, and what's past helpe Should be past greefe.” The very first definition for remedy in the OED is in fact cure and “what remedy?” is defined as meaning “what help for it?” as coined in the early sixteenth century and used by Shakespeare in 1598 in The Merry Wives of Windsor “Well, what remedy?..what cannot be eschew'd, must be embrac'd.” In turn, cure, as used in a pharse coined by Chaucer , “out of all cure” is said to be defined as “beyond remedy” or “past help.” “c1374 CHAUCER Troylus v. 713 And thus despeired out of alle cure She ladde here lyf, this woful creature.”
“My verse alone had all thy gentle grace” The words of particular interest here are “gentle” and “grace.” “Gentle” had already acquired multiple definitions by Shakespeare’s day. There is oldest definition “noble”, gives a very standard meaning to the character the poet adores which would probably be most pleasing to the nobility as they are to be adored. A similarly pleasing but slightly most ethereal take on the word would be the definition “of excellent breed or spirit”. Again the words “honourable” and “distinguished” come up. If performing to a more low-brow audience the Bard may have chosen to play up the now lesser know definition “shoemaker” in an...
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