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Sonnets > #83 I never saw that you did painting need

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message 1: by Martin (new)

Martin | 39 comments Sonnet 83

I never saw that you did painting 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 you did impute,
Which shall be most my glory, being dumb:
For I impair not beauty, being mute,
When others would give life, and bring a tomb.
There lives more life in one of your fair eyes
Than both your poets can in praise devise.

message 2: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2748 comments Mod
If you had told me this was written by someone contemporary...lI almost might believe it.

Maybe it's the mention of "modern"...or it is the ideaaof talking about art with art.

message 3: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2748 comments Mod
The line...

"while others would give life, and bring a tomb"

Is this like a seeming compliment but is actually an insult?

message 4: by Candy (last edited May 30, 2017 06:52AM) (new)

Candy | 2748 comments Mod
Modern. What does this mean to Shakespeare?

Antony and Cleopatra, Act v. sc. 2,

"Immoment toys, things of such dignity
As we greet modern friends withal."

All's Well That Ends Well

"hey say miracles are past; and we have our
philosophical persons, to make modern and familiar,
things supernatural and causeless. Hence is it that
we make trifles of terrors, ensconcing ourselves
into seeming knowledge, when we should submit
ourselves to an unknown fear."

"I think she has: certain it is I liked her,
And boarded her i' the wanton way of youth:
She knew her distance and did angle for me,
Madding my eagerness with her restraint,
As all impediments in fancy's course
Are motives of more fancy; and, in fine,
Her infinite cunning, with her modern grace,
Subdued me to her rate: she got the ring;
And I had that which any inferior might
At market-price have bought."

message 5: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2748 comments Mod

"Alas, poor country!
Almost afraid to know itself. It cannot
Be call'd our mother, but our grave; where nothing,
But who knows nothing, is once seen to smile;
Where sighs and groans and shrieks that rend the air
Are made, not mark'd; where violent sorrow seems
A modern ecstasy; the dead man's knell
Is there scarce ask'd for who; and good men's lives
Expire before the flowers in their caps,
Dying or ere they sicken."

message 6: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2748 comments Mod
modern (n.) Look up modern at
1580s, "person of the present time" (contrasted to ancient, from modern (adj.). From 1897 as "one who is up to date."
modern (adj.) Look up modern at
c. 1500, "now existing;" 1580s, "of or pertaining to present or recent times;" from Middle French moderne (15c.) and directly from Late Latin modernus "modern" (Priscian, Cassiodorus), from Latin modo "just now, in a (certain) manner," from modo (adv.) "to the measure," ablative of modus "manner, measure" (from PIE root *med- "take appropriate measures"). Extended form modern-day attested from 1909.

In Shakespeare, often with a sense of "every-day, ordinary, commonplace." Slang abbreviation mod first attested 1960. Modern art is from 1807 (in contrast to ancient; in contrast to traditional by 1930s); modern dance first attested 1912; first record of modern jazz is from 1954. Modern conveniences first recorded 1926.

message 7: by DavidE (new)

DavidE (shaxton) | 358 comments Thanks Candy for the lowdown on "modern." (And I agree the poem does seem modern, to our modern ear.)

I note also that the tone of this poem is far more winning than that of so many of the recent sonnets we've discussed.

At the same time, the poet brings up the idea of a rival poet in the very last line. I note that here it seems to be definitely in the singular--one rival poet--and yet commentators often refer to one OR MORE rival poets. Can anyone think of a reference in sonnets that clearly points to the possibility of more than one rival poet?

message 8: by DavidE (new)

DavidE (shaxton) | 358 comments I wonder if this use of the word "modern," cited in the OED, comes closest to what Shakespeare had in mind when he wrote "How far a modern quill doth come too short."

 a. Characteristic of the present time, or the time of writing; not old-fashioned, antiquated, or obsolete; employing the most up-to-date ideas, techniques, or equipment.
In early use chiefly with reference to warfare.
1590   J. Smythe Certain Disc. Weapons 8 b,   Without composing them of diuers sorts of weapons, according to the moderne vse.
1598   R. Barret Theorike & Pract. Mod. Warres Gloss. 251   Moderne warre, is the new order of warre vsed in our age.
1607   B. Jonson Volpone iii. iv. 92   He has so moderne, and facile a veine, Fitting the time, and catching the Court-eare.  

message 9: by Martin (last edited May 31, 2017 08:00AM) (new)

Martin | 39 comments David wrote: " Can anyone think of a reference in the sonnets that clearly points to the possibility of more than one rival poet?

Well, yes, sonnet 85, posted on March 20th.

message 10: by Martin (new)

Martin | 39 comments The poem seems to exemplify Janice(JG)'s idea that it is intended for a single reader, and at the same time to be addressing a larger audience. On the one hand it is an intimate letter, and seems to answer another letter that might be suggesting S's verse is a bit old-fashioned, and lacking in description -- S is being compared unfavourably with someone else. On the other hand, it is S's statement to us about why the sonnets are written as they are: why they don't attempt to describe things in nature which can only ever be more real in themselves than any description could be. This leads back to the idea of silence,

"This silence . . . being dumb . . . being mute"

(There is an excellent book, Shakespeare and the Confines of Art, exploring S's interest in the boundaries of what his artistic expression could achieve.)

If the two poets are taken to be eyes which look at the fair youth, they can be contrasted to the fair youth's eyes. Their vision of him is less than half the value of the original.

"I never saw that you did painting need"

-- is this in part a reference to men, in contrast to women, not using cosmetics?

message 12: by Janice (JG) (last edited Jun 02, 2017 10:58PM) (new)

Janice (JG) My first thought when I read that first line "I never saw that you did painting need" was that of a compliment to (I assumed) a woman who was so "fair" (beautiful) she had no need for makeup and patches and rouge etc. Perhaps she or someone had demeaned her looks and this was S's defense for her. Does she have two poets wooing her?

message 13: by Martin (new)

Martin | 39 comments Yes, Janice also saw the first line to mean "paint applied to the person" to begin with. It is only when you get into the sonnet that you realise it means "painting a portrait of a person". The verb "paint" always carries that ambiguity: it is like the joke in "The Producers", Hitler was a greater painter than Churchill because Hitler could paint an entire apartment in one afternoon, two coats.

But then the image of the visual artist really stands for the literary artist anyway. Perhaps the "modern quill" is to remind us of the black-and-white words on the page, no substitute for the colouring of a "man in hue". The contrast of colour against black-and-white seems to turn up in Loves Labours Lost in several places.

message 14: by Martin (new)

Martin | 39 comments I think it is clear from the passages Candy quoted that "modern" is to be taken in the sense of "modish", the opposite not of "old-fashioned" but of "timeless". It seems to be a centrally important word in this sonnet. The second poet, I would say, stands just for the poet of fashion, and is the type of poet S did not did not see himself as being, and did not want to be.

message 15: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (goodreadscomdawn_irena) | 24 comments Ok - when I read this , I had thought of the response immediately from Ariana Grande to the Manchester attack in London . She must of had a great PR rep or the young kid is very sincere because from this sonnet I understood there to be " No Words " to compare to her excellence . No new words or no words could come to him at all .

So yes,he may have been expressing himself as a failure as a poet or not as skilled as his contemporaries because he could not even describe the beauty of the beauty in just her eyes.

This is a wonderful sonnet about how relevant Shakespeare's poetry is still today. I loved this one so much . And when the idea of all of those little girls came to my mind seeing their eyes with so much hope while they were innocent and alive , I cried. Ariana Grande was right , " No Words"!


message 16: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (goodreadscomdawn_irena) | 24 comments Oh! Another thing about the painting . I completely took that in an artistic way . I felt that he was saying that no painter could possibly capture her beauty on canvas perfectly so why try. A painter would just flaw her image and damage his reputation. So how does he describe in words that which a painter cannot capture in his eye view.

Does that sound right ?

message 17: by Martin (new)

Martin | 39 comments That sounds right, Dawn!

The book I mentioned above, "S and the confines of art", takes as its theme the idea that whatever the art form, music, poetry, fiction, painting, there are limits of what it can do, boundaries of achievability. The author sees S as working against these limits -- testing them and trying to extend them. (The examples are mainly from the plays; the sonnets are discussed, but only in a limited way, and not this one.) The idea of inexpressibility leads to "No words", silence.

message 18: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) Ah, so capturing the beauty in paint or words is the challenge and the limitation. Very nice.

I really love the line: "I found (or thought I found) ..."

A very intimate and self-revealing parenthetical, almost confessional. This is another way S can make these sonnets seem so intimate and personal.

message 19: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2748 comments Mod
I agree, the love of this person is in the moment and the narrator wants to keep it real. This is about having a record of beauty and love...and the narrator does not need that. What is interesting ito me is the idea of being together is so much better than having a picture of a loved one. And....then...perhaps the threat of not being together for either party is in this poem too.

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