My heart and my eye have reached a mutually beneficial understanding. When my eye yearns for the sight of my beloved, or when my heart is pining, then my eye shares the sight of my beloved (seen in a painting) with my heart. At other times, my heart will share with my eye (in imagination) some memory or thought of the beloved. So whether in painting or in imagination, you are always present with me. It is impossible for you to move outside the sphere of my thoughts; I am always with my thoughts, and they are always with you. Or, if my thoughts are, as it were, sleeping, then your painting will delight my eyes and thus awake my heart.
In both Sonnet 46 and Sonnet 47 the eye, as a party to the trial or to the truce is always used in the singular. The plural eyes is used in line 6 of Sonnet 46 and possibly (at least in the modern version of the text) in line 14 of Sonnet 47 but they do not refer there to the "defendant". In Sonnet 24 both singular and plural are used to refer to the eyes of the speaker.
Sonnet 47 is an English or Shakespearean sonnet, which contains three quatrains followed by a final couplet for a total of fourteen lines. It follows the typical rhyme scheme of the form, ABAB CDCD EFEF GG, and is composed in iambic pentameter, a type of metre based on five pairs of metrically weak/strong syllabic positions per line. The final line exemplifies a regular iambic pentameter:
× / × / × / × / × / Awakes my heart, to heart's and eyes' delight. (47.14)
Lines two and four contain a final extrametrical syllable or feminine ending.
× / × / × / × / × / (×) Or heart in love with sighs himself doth smother, (47.4)
- / = ictus, a metrically strong syllabic position. × = nonictus. (×) = extrametrical syllable.
Source and analysis
The sonnet thematically continues from the "verdict" delivered by the eye and heart in the previous sonnet. Kerrigan perceives an allusion to the story of Zeuxis and Parrhasius in the "painted banquet" of line 8. Comparing the same image to similar passages in The Faerie Queene, Booth regards the image as symbolic of coldness and insufficiency. Sidney Lee suggests that the conceit of the poem inspired a passage in John Suckling's Tragedy of Benneralt. Edmond Malone notes that the figure of line 3 appears also in The Comedy of Errors; Edward Dowden notes parallels to Sonnet 75.
- Baldwin, T. W. On the Literary Genetics of Shakespeare's Sonnets. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1950.
- Hubler, Edwin. The Sense of Shakespeare's Sonnets. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1952.
- Lee, Sidney. Elizabethan Sonnets. Westminster: Constable, 1904.
- First edition and facsimile
- Variorum editions
- Modern critical editions
- Atkins, Carl D., ed. (2007). Shakespeare's Sonnets: With Three Hundred Years of Commentary. Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. ISBN 978-0-8386-4163-7. OCLC 86090499.
- Booth, Stephen, ed. (2000) [1st ed. 1977]. Shakespeare's Sonnets (Rev. ed.). New Haven: Yale Nota Bene. ISBN 0-300-01959-9. OCLC 2968040.
- Burrow, Colin, ed. (2002). The Complete Sonnets and Poems. The Oxford Shakespeare. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0192819338. OCLC 48532938.
- Duncan-Jones, Katherine, ed. (2010) [1st ed. 1997]. Shakespeare's Sonnets. The Arden Shakespeare, Third Series (Rev. ed.). London: Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1-4080-1797-5. OCLC 755065951.
- Evans, G. Blakemore, ed. (1996). The Sonnets. The New Cambridge Shakespeare. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521294034. OCLC 32272082.
- Kerrigan, John, ed. (1995) [1st ed. 1986]. The Sonnets ; and, A Lover's Complaint. New Penguin Shakespeare (Rev. ed.). Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-070732-8. OCLC 15018446.
- Mowat, Barbara A.; Werstine, Paul, eds. (2006). Shakespeare's Sonnets & Poems. Folger Shakespeare Library. New York: Washington Square Press. ISBN 978-0743273282. OCLC 64594469.
- Orgel, Stephen, ed. (2001). The Sonnets. The Pelican Shakespeare (Rev. ed.). New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0140714531. OCLC 46683809.
- Vendler, Helen, ed. (1997). The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-63712-7. OCLC 36806589.