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If it be not, then Love doth well denote
O cunning Love! with tears Thou keep'st Me blind,
Lest eyes well-seeing Thy foul faults should find. The self-criticism is continued. In this stanza he contrasts the criminality of the character he has drawn in Macbeth with truth. There is no correspondence between them. His judgment condemns the crimes of Macbeth and his wife, yet he delights in portraying them. Why should the world condemn them? If he is infatuated, then Love is untrue, and the world is right. How can that Love be true which is exhibited in delirium and tears? It will not surprise him if he is in error.
The sun sees not the earth till, the heavens are clear, so he will not see his error until his work is done. He will be blind to the faults of Lady Macbeth, and depict her delirium and watching lest the world see her infamy only.
What merit do I in Myself respect,
But, love, hate on, for now I know Thy mind;
In this stanza all the allusions point to the tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra. Substitute Antony and Cleopatra for the writer, and Thee as the interlocutors in the stanza, and the conversation would assume a form after this manner: Antony asks Cleopatra: “How can you be so cruel as to say I do not love you, when, against all the teaching of my better nature, I partake with you in sin? Do I not forget myself in thinking of you and giving you all my affections? Who hates you that is my friend? Whom do you hate that I love? When you chide me, am I not submissive to your will? Have I any merit of renown that is not devoted to your service, while thus infatuated with your personal charms and power?” He represents this condition of the leading characters as the limit of disclosure in the tragedy, and himself blind as to what will follow.
There is such strength and warrantise of skill
If Thy unworthiness rais'd love in Me,
The conversation between the writer and Thee in this stanza, resumed, as a fresh appeal of Antony to Cleopatra, would reproduce the thoughts expressed between them in similar form. “Whence do you get this power to sway my heart with insufficiency, and cause me to belie my own convictions of truth? Why make me swear that your Egyptian face is more beautiful than one of fairer hue? Why is it that you have power to make evil so attractive that your worst acts in my eyes exceed the best? Who taught you how to make me love you more, the more I see just cause to hate you? My countrymen abhor me, and would deprive me of my renown for loving you; but you should not join with them in that hatred, nor should you repel me from you, because I am enamored of your personal charms."
My soul doth tell My body that he may
No want of conscience hold it that I call
Continuing the address to Cleopatra in this stanza, Antony pleads that his love for her is too fresh, too strong, to be under any conscientious restraint. Yet who knows but conscience is born of love, and if so, why should you remind me of having violated it, when you, my ideal of love, may prove guilty of a like offence. When Truth (Thou) forsakes me, my body controls all my nobler qualities, and my soul resigns my body to uncontrolled sensual indulgence. I need no other license for the enjoyment of that love I bear for you. It is that which makes me your drudge and slave. For that I have forsaken wife, home, country, and the honor and renown of a great life, conscience and all, to aid in the affairs of your kingdom, and "fall by your side.”
For all My vows are oaths but to misuse Thee,
For I have sworn Thee fair; more perjur'd I,
. In this stanza, pursuing the same form of address to Thou and Thee, he gives Cleopatra's reply to Antony. “You know I am forsworn in loving you, as I am the widow of Ptolemy; but you are twice forsworn in swearing love to me.-once to Fulvia, who died after your first visit here, and now to Octavia, to whom you are just married. Your bed-vow to Octavia is broken, and the new faith you have given her violated, by thus disregarding your marital ties. But I am wrong to accuse you of breaking two oaths, when I break twenty. I am the worst criminal, for all my vows lead to the misdirection of your great qualities. I have lost all honest faith in you, because you have proved false to the kindness that I credited you with, as well as to the love, truth, and constancy which I believed I enjoyed in your attentions. I made myself blind to your falsities, and would not see them because I felt certain of your great love for me. I was truly perjured in swearing this against the truth, as since revealed in your perfidy."