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Sonnet 59

a cornucopia of a book
Read by Claire Marchionne
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A. L. Rowse in his Shakespeare's Sonnets writes: "This curious and little-quoted sonnet yet tells us something about Shakespeare's attitude to hiw own writing.  'Labouring for invention', shows his determination to write something new.  The suggestion at the back of this poem may well come from Ecclesiastes, i. 9 foll., 'The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that shall be done : and there is nothing new under the sun'.

If there be nothing new, but that which is
Hath been before, how are our brains beguil'd,
Which labouring for invention bear amiss
The second burthen of a former child!
O! that record could with a backward look,
Even of five hundred courses of the sun,
Show me your image in some antique book,
Since mind at first in character was done!
That I might see what the old world could say
To this composed wonder of your frame;
Wh'r we are mended, or wh'r better they,
Or whether revolution be the same. 
  O! sure I am the wits of former days,
  To subjects worse have given admiring praise.

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