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Thou (Truth) is claimed and represented by the poet from the commencement to the close of the poem to be its“only begetter.” Thy is the thought that puts the truth in form. Beauty is used as an ornament only. The poem narrates the truth concerning the dramas, their origin, and the reasons for their appearance as the works of Shakespeare. What matters it who "Mr. W. II." or who “ the well-wishing adventurer” is? They are evidently used or assumed to conceal the real purpose of the dedication; probably, like the rest of it, entirely allegorical. That T. T. means The Truth, instead of Thomas Thorpe, as generally believed, is seemingly, at least, refigured in the alliteration, “ true telling,” in the foregoing lines, and without some close akin to it, it is impossible to complete the sense of the dedication.
What is the evidence that Thomas Thorpe ever existed? The following entry in the Stationer's Register, under the date of May 20, 1009, is all:“THOMAS THORPE. — Entred for his copie under
th[e h]andes of master Wilson and master Lownes Warden, a Booke called Shakespeare's sonnettes, vjd."
By this it appears that the entry for his copyright was made and paid for “by the hands of Master Wilson and Master Lownes, Warden." IIistory is silent as to who they were, or at whose request they made the entry. No writer has been
able to solve the mystery attending the publication of the Sonnets. The prevailing opinion is, that they were surreptitiously obtained and published without authority. This is bardly probable. If these interpretations are correct, Bacon contrived the plan for their publication, and found in Thomas Thorpe a man of his own creation, the two initials (T. T.) signifying The Truth placed at the close of his enigmatical dedication.
There lives more life in one of Your fair eyes
In this stanza he gives his reasons for not including Beauty in the dedication. He saw no reason for praising him, because all effort to do so would be so greatly excelled by Beauty himself, that the praise would be “barren” and meaningless. He had not done it, because Beauty of himself and in delineation would demonstrate by his
presence how impossible it would be for any writer to do justice to his merits, and speak of him as lie is, or as he will be appreciated by his constant growth. It has been imputed to him by Beauty, in the writings of others, that it was wrong to publish his poem without an intelligible dedication, but he was glad he had not written one, as by being silent he had not impaired Beauty, while others, who expected great benefit from their dedications, had effectually ruined their works by them. There was more “life” (more to give Beauty perpetuity) in one of Your delineations than any praise that both he and his successor could possibly "devise."
You to Your beauteous blessings add a curse,
In this stanza he enlarges upon the merits of Beauty when considered by himself. How is it
possible to exceed the praise of a thing which is commended to all your faculties by its beauty. To feel that it is beautiful, and call it so, is the utrnost limit of praise. It contains in itself an example for all. He is a poor writer, who, however he borrows from others, imparts no interest from his own thoughts to his subject. But if he writes to illustrate anything beautiful, and it is recognized in that sense, his story needs no other praise. Let him follow nature in his delineation, and his work will be "admired everywhere." Beauty which seeks praise outside of itself, deprives its own intrinsic merit of full appreciation.
Then others for the breath of words respect,
In this stanza he agrees in thought with those who add praise to beauty in their poems, but writes nothing in his praise himself. His muse is
quiet in that respect, because it would be in direct violation of his views already expressed, to write in praise of a subject which needed no praise; in other words, it would be superfluous “to gild refined gold and paint the lily.” All the other poets are devoting their best efforts to this purpose. He thinks as highly of beauty as they who write in his praise, he assents to all that his accomplished successor may say of Beauty by a casual remark of approval. To this, however, in his thought he adds a higher adoration, which is embodied in thought rather than words. If those who write are to be respected for their eulogies of beauty, he claims equal honor for the creation he has given her in thoughts, which is more effective.
But when Your countenance fill'd up his line,
In this stanza he tells the reason why he has ceased to continue writing for the present. Was