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Mine eye hath play'd the painter and hath steel'd,
In the sonnet, Shakespeare treats the commonplace Renaissance conceit connecting heart and eye. Although it relates to other sonnets that explore this theme, Sonnet 24 is considered largely imitative and conventional.
Source and analysis
Edward Capell emended quarto "steeld" to "stelled," a word more closely related to the metaphor of the first quatrain. Edward Dowden notes parallels for the opening conceit in Henry Constable's Diana and in Thomas Watson's Tears of Fancy.
The poem has not enjoyed a high reputation. Henry Charles Beeching speculates that it might be a half-serious spoof of a cliched type of poem. George Wyndham is among the few to take it completely seriously, providing a neoplatonic reading.
"Perspective" is the key trope in the second half of the poem, as it introduces the idea of the connection between speaker and beloved. Some editors have assumed that "perspective" was used, as often in the Renaissance, to refer to a specific type of optical illusion sometimes called a perspective house; however, Thomas Tyler and others demonstrated that the word was also known in its modern sense during the time.
Sonnet 46 and Sonnet 47 also present the eyes of the speaker as a character in the poem. Note that in Sonnet 24 both the singular eye and the plural eyes are used for the eyes of the speaker, contrary to Sonnet 46 and Sonnet 47 where only the singular is used.
- Alden, Raymond (1916). The Sonnets of Shakespeare, with Variorum Reading and Commentary. Houghton-Mifflin, Boston.
- Baldwin, T. W. (1950). On the Literary Genetics of Shakspeare's Sonnets. University of Illinois Press, Urbana.
- Booth, Stephen (1977). Shakespeare's Sonnets. Yale University Press, New Haven.
- Dowden, Edward (1881). Shakespeare's Sonnets. London.
- Evans, G. Blakemore, Anthony Hecht, (1996). Shakespeare's Sonnets. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
- Hubler, Edwin (1952). The Sense of Shakespeare's Sonnets. Princeton University Press, Princeton.
- Schoenfeldt, Michael (2007). The Sonnets: The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare’s Poetry. Patrick Cheney, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
- Tyler, Thomas (1989). Shakespeare’s Sonnets. London D. Nutt.
- Vendler, Helen (1997). The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
- Works related to Sonnet 24 (Shakespeare) at Wikisource
- Paraphrase and analysis (Shakespeare-online)