Shakespeare's Sonnets: Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth

Sonnet 146

Original Text: 
SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS (London: G. Eld for T. T. and sold by William Aspley, 1609): i3r-i3v.
1Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth,
3Why dost thou pine within and suffer dearth
4Painting thy outward walls so costly gay?
5Why so large cost, having so short a lease,
6Dost thou upon thy fading mansion spend?
7Shall worms, inheritors of this excess,
8Eat up thy charge? is this thy body's end?
9Then, soul, live thou upon thy servant's loss
12Within be fed, without be rich no more,
13    So shalt thou feed on death, that feeds on men,
14    And death once dead, there's no more dying then.


2] Defy] My sinful earth Q, which is presumably an error (the line has 12 syllables). "Defy" is a guess--no more. Other editors' suggestions include "feeding" (Duncan-Jones; cf. lines 12-13, and 147.3) and "'Thrall to' (by analogy with Lucrece, 722-28), 'Fool'd by,' 'Lord of,' 'Press'd by,' 'Why feed'st'"; "The meaning of the phrase is: the rebellious bodily passions that are the garment of the soul" (F. D. Hoeniger). Back to Line
10] that] the body. pine] suffer. aggravate] increase. Back to Line
11] terms divine] "long periods of divine salvation" (F. D. Hoeniger). Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: