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Sonnet 94

O'Connor writes with enormous, extravagant enthusiasm.  The ideas jostle each other off the page.

Wiliam Shakespeare: A Life by Gary O'Connor: Shakespeare would have liked to believe in a Platonic ideal of nobility - the perfect gentleman, the divine ruler, the lord and owner of his fate, as well as the permanent storehouse of beauty and the aristocratic ideal.  But ultimately he was not convinced of it.  The sudden shift of thought in the final six lines prefigures his dark judgement on Southampton's kind.  For the "sweet thing" was to turn sour in his deeds, culminating in his support of Essex.  Sentenced to a spell in the Tower, he became at least for some years, a festering lily.

Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, after Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger
They that have power to hurt, and will do none,
That do not do the thing they most do show,
Who, moving others, are themselves as stone,
Unmoved, cold, and to temptation slow;
They rightly do inherit heaven's graces,
And husband nature's riches from expense;
They are the lords and owners of their faces,
Others, but stewards of their excellence.
The summer's flower is to the summer sweet,
Though to itself, it only live and die,
But if that flower with base infection meet,
The basest weed outbraves his dignity: 
  For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;
  Lilies that fester, smell far worse than weeds.
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