Shakespeare's Sonnets: What is your substance, whereof are you made

Sonnet 53

Original Text: 
SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS (London: G. Eld for T. T. and sold by William Aspley, 1609): d3v-d4r.
1What is your substance, whereof are you made,
3Since every one hath, every one, one shade,
4And you, but one, can every shadow lend.
6Is poorly imitated after you;
7On Helen's cheek all art of beauty set,
10The one doth shadow of your beauty show,
11The other as your bounty doth appear,
12And you in every blessèd shape we know.
13    In all external grace you have some part,


2] tend] attend, wait. Back to Line
5] counterfeit] likeness. Back to Line
8] tires] attire, clothes. Back to Line
9] the spring, and foison of the year] possibly alluding to the subjects of sonnets 12 and 18. foison] harvest, plenty. Back to Line
14] constant heart] the motto of the Pembrokes was "Ung je serviray" ('I serve one'; Burke's Peerage, ed. Charles Mosley, 107th edn., III [2003]: 3093). Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: