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Sonnet 103: Alack, What Poverty My Muse Brings Forth - Poem by William Shakespeare

Alack, what poverty my Muse brings forth,
That having such a scope to show her pride,
The argument all bare is of more worth
Than when it hath my added praise beside.
O, blame me not if I no more can write!
Look in your glass, and there appears a face
That overgoes my blunt invention quite,
Dulling my lines, and doing me disgrace.
Were it not sinful then striving to mend,
To mar the subject that before was well?
For to no other pass my verses tend
Than of your graces and your gifts to tell;
And more, much more than in my verse can sit,
Your own glass shows you when you look in it.

Comments about Sonnet 103: Alack, What Poverty My Muse Brings Forth by William Shakespeare

  • Gold Star - 171,167 Points Fabrizio Frosini (2/29/2016 5:38:00 AM)


    1. Alack! what poverty my Muse brings forth,
    brings forth = gives birth to.
    2. That having such a scope to show her pride,
    such a scope = such spacious and rich opportunities and themes
    to show her pride = to show off her excellence, to be ostentatiously showy.
    3. The argument all bare is of more worth
    The argument = the subject matter;
    all bare = when it is naked and unadorned.
    4. Than when it hath my added praise beside!
    Added praise beside - beside is tautological, but it adds to the sense of a heaping up of encomiums, and provides the necessary rhyme.
    5. O! blame me not, if I no more can write!
    My Muse of line 1 has now become the poet himself, who can no longer write, whose inspiration has all dried up.
    6. Look in your glass, and there appears a face
    your glass = your mirror.
    7. That over-goes my blunt invention quite,
    over-goes = surpasses, excels, out-does.
    my blunt invention = my dull powers of fancy and poetic creation, my poor poetic talent.
    8. Dulling my lines, and doing me disgrace.
    dulling my lines = making my lines appear to be boring by comparison.
    doing me disgrace = making me appear graceless, disgracing me by making me appear inadequate.
    (Report) Reply

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  • Gold Star - 171,167 Points Fabrizio Frosini (2/29/2016 5:38:00 AM)

    9. Were it not sinful then, striving to mend,
    Were it not sinful = would it not be sinful if I were to etc.
    striving to mend = as a result of striving to improve (your image, the description of you) .
    10. To mar the subject that before was well?
    To mar the subject = to do damage to you, the subject of my verse.
    that before was well = you who, before I started to praise you, were already excellent in your own person.
    11. For to no other pass my verses tend
    no other pass = no other aim or issue.
    tend = strive, aim for.
    12. Than of your graces and your gifts to tell;
    your graces and your gifts = your elegant and graceful person and your talents.
    13. And more, much more, than in my verse can sit,
    more, much more - the more that he sees may not be to his liking.
    in my verse can sit = than can be placed in my verse, than my verse can contain. to sit is simply to be present at, or in.
    14. Your own glass shows you when you look in it.
    glass = mirror. The thought is that the youth's reflection in the mirror, the reality that he sees there, is far richer than anything that the poet can say of him in verse. The philosophical problem is that an image in the mirror is no more 'the thing itself' than is the image depicted, described, delineated and painted in verse. The narcissistic fulfilment of himself, achieved by gazing in the mirror, may therefore be as fatuous and unfulfilling as listening to the songs of poets who sing his praises.
    (Report) Reply

    Rookie magdalene (11/15/2017 7:04:00 PM)

    could you summarize what this entire poem is about

    | Delete this reply
    40 person liked.
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  • Gold Star - 171,167 Points Fabrizio Frosini (1/13/2016 12:55:00 PM)

    The poet again parades his modesty, portraying himself as an indifferent poet who cannot adequately sing the worth of his beloved. But of course the poem itself contradicts this stance, and the poet, despite his disclaimers, is probably well aware of the relative merits of his verse when set against the youth's own frivolity and the worth of a lasting and true relationship. Yet he shows his generosity by degrading his talents to a humble level and putting the youth on the customary high pedestal. The closing couplet is perhaps double edged in that the 'more, much more' which the mirror shows is the effect of the encroachment of lines and wrinkles. The following sonnet pretends to deny this perception, saying it is unworthy of notice. But alas, the face which Narcissus saw, when he gazed at his own image reflected in the water, was the face of time and death. (Report) Reply

    43 person liked.
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  • Freshman - 602 Points Brian Jani (4/26/2014 5:11:00 AM)

    Awesome I like this poem, check mine out (Report) Reply

    1 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Rookie - 40 Points Egal Bohen (9/25/2006 12:41:00 PM)

    I imagine whoever it was who gave this a 1 obviously cannot read (or perhaps is more than a little jealous?) (Report) Reply

    1 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
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  43. 43. In Poetry There Is No Poverty
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  45. 45. The Impact Of Poverty On Education
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  47. 47. Poverty Flies By Your Wall
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  1. Lines Indited With All The Depravity Of Poverty

    One way to be very happy is to be very rich For then you can buy orchids by the quire and bacon by the flitch. And yet at the same time People don't mind if you only tip them a dime, Because it's very funny But somehow if you're rich enough you can get away with spending water like money While if you're not rich you can spend in one evening your salary for the year And everybody will just stand around and jeer. If you are rich you don't have to think twice about buying a judge or a horse, Or a lower instead of an upper, or a new suit, or a divorce, And you never have to say When, And you can sleep every morning until nine or ten, All of which Explains why I should like very, very much to be very, very rich.

  2. Poverty And Wealth

    The stork flew over a town one day, And back of each wing an infant lay; One to a rich man’s home he brought, And one he left at a labourer’s cot. The rich man said, ‘My son shall be A lordly ruler o’er land and sea.’ The labourer sighed, ‘’Tis the good God’s will That I have another mouth to fill.’ The rich man’s son grew strong and fair, And proud with the pride of a millionaire. His motto in life was, ‘Live while you may, ’ And he crowded years in a single day. He bought position and name and place, And he bought him a wife with a handsome face. He journeyed over the whole wide world, But discontent his heart lay curled Like a serpent hidden in leaves and moss, And life seemed hollow and gold was dross. He scoffed at woman, and doubted God, And died like a beast and went back to the sod. The son of the labourer tilled the soil, And thanked God daily for health and toil. He wedded for love in his youthful prime, And two lives chorded in tune and time. His wants were simple, and simple his creed, To trust God fully: it served his need, And lightened his labour, and helped him to die With a smile on his lips and a hope in his eye. When all is over and all is done, Now which of these men was the richer one?

  3. Your Riches—taught Me—poverty

    299 Your Riches—taught me—Poverty. Myself—a Millionaire In little Wealths, as Girls could boast Till broad as Buenos Ayre— You drifted your Dominions— A Different Peru— And I esteemed All Poverty For Life's Estate with you— Of Mines, I little know—myself— But just the names, of Gems— The Colors of the Commonest— And scarce of Diadems— So much, that did I meet the Queen— Her Glory I should know— But this, must be a different Wealth— To miss it—beggars so— I'm sure 'tis India—all Day— To those who look on You— Without a stint—without a blame, Might I—but be the Jew— I'm sure it is Golconda— Beyond my power to deem— To have a smile for Mine—each Day, How better, than a Gem! At least, it solaces to know That there exists—a Gold— Altho' I prove it, just in time Its distance—to behold— Its far—far Treasure to surmise— And estimate the Pearl— That slipped my simple fingers through— While just a Girl at School.

  4. The Curse Of Poverty

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