Shakespeare's Sonnets: Was it the proud full sail of his great verse

Sonnet 86

Original Text: 
SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS (London: G. Eld for T. T. and sold by William Aspley, 1609): f2v-f3r.
2Bound for the prize of (all too precious) you,
4Making their tomb the womb wherein they grew?
8Giving him aid, my verse astonishèd.
12I was not sick of any fear from thence.
13    But when your countenance fill'd up his line,
14    Then lack't I matter, that enfeebled mine.


1] his] the rival poet. Back to Line
3] inhearse] a word first used by Shakespeare. Back to Line
5] spirit] pronounced as a single syllable (cf. OED, "sprite"). by spirits taught to write] George Chapman claimed to be inspired by several dead poets, Christopher Marlowe (whose Hero and Leander Chapman finished in 1598) and Homer (whose Iliad he translated in 1598 and 1608-09). Back to Line
6] Above a mortal pitch] To an apex higher than mortals (can ascend). Back to Line
7] compeers by night] associates in the so-called "School of Night" among whom Chapman was one. Back to Line
9] familiar ghost] guardian spirit, or spirit over which the poet has some control. Back to Line
10] gulls: deceives. Back to Line
11] victors of my silence] those who conquered and silenced me (as compared to the ghost). Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: