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Analysis of Sonnet 83
I never saw that you did painting did need,
And therefore to your fair no painting set.
I found, or thought I found, you did exceed
The barren tender of a poet's debt.
And therefore have I slept in your report,
That you yourself, being extant, well might show
How far a modern quill doth come too short
Speaking of worth, what worth in you doth grow.
This silence for my sin sis you impute,
Which shall be muost my glory, being dumb,
For I impair not being beauty being mute,
When others would give life and bring a tomb.
There lives more life in one of you fair eyes
Than both you poets can in praise devise.
In some of Shakespeare's Sonnets we the reader can see that he was against the use of cosmetics. Commonly referred to as "painting", we see this sonnet to prove his dislike for the use of beautifying agents. 1-2: 'I never thought, because of the way you appear to me, that you ever needed cosmetics, and therefore, you don't need a cosmetic kit to make you beautiful.' "Set" here can also be read as a verb, as in the drying of the make-up. (Make-up in Elizabethan England was quite different from today's, including some such elements as lead in the composition). 3-4: "Exceed" does refer to "the barren tender", but it wouldn't be inappropriate to infer that Shakespeare is reflecting upon an 'exceeding' amount of cosmetics applied. But better is the 'exceeding in the absent [or of no worth] payments (of flattery) of a poet's debt. "Debt" is taken to mean both the debt that poets have to beauty, as their duty to praise it, and also a pun on monetary deficiency. This then refers back to "tender", meaning both soft and supple as well as currency. All of these words create a theme of finance, perhaps outlining the worth of the addressee. 5: "Report" meaning description. 6-8: 'Because your (still) existing self very well may show just how far a modern quill [writing instrument at the time] comes too short in speaking of your worth, the worth that grows in you'.
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