Was it the proud full sail of his great verse,
Bound for the prize of all too precious you,
That did my ripe thoughts in my brain inhearse,
Making their tomb the womb wherein they grew?
Was it his spirit, by spirits taught to write
Above a mortal pitch, that struck me dead?
No, neither he, nor his compeers by night
Giving him aid, my verse astonished.
He, nor that affable familiar ghost
Which nightly gulls him with intelligence,
As victors of my silence cannot boast;
I was not sick of any fear from thence:
But when your countenance filled up his line,
Then lacked I matter; that enfeebled mine.
Sonnet 86 is one of 154 sonnets written by the English playwright and poet William Shakespeare. It's a member of the Fair Youth sequence, in which the poet expresses his love towards a young man.
The Rival Poet's literary talent is again compared to a great ship in full sail (as in sonnet 80) seeking to capture the youth's beauty like a prize. The poet is unable to articulate his thoughts, but it was not the rival poet, nor other writers, nor the guiding spirits that inspire them. But the fact that the youth's face fills the verse of the rival, weakens the poet.