Sonnet 82

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Sonnet 82
Detail of old-spelling text
Sonnet 82 in the 1609 Quarto
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I grant thou wert not married to my Muse,
And therefore mayst without attaint o’erlook
The dedicated words which writers use
Of their fair subject, blessing every book.
Thou art as fair in knowledge as in hue,
Finding thy worth a limit past my praise;
And therefore art enforce’d to seek anew
Some fresher stamp of the time-bettering days,
And do so, love; yet when they have devis’d
What strained touches rhetoric can lend,
Thou truly fair wert truly sympathiz’d
In true plain words by thy true-telling friend;
And their gross painting might be better us’d
Where cheeks need blood; in thee it is abus’d.





—William Shakespeare[1]

Sonnet 82 is one of 154 sonnets written by the English playwright and poet William Shakespeare. It is a member of the Fair Youth sequence, in which the poet expresses his love towards a young man, and the fifth sonnet of the Rival Poet subsequence.


Not being married to the poet's muse, the youth can honourably respond to other poets' muses without being accused of infidelity. But the youth shouldn't be too attracted to flashy and unrealistic rhetoric. The poet's own simple truthfulness more accurately represents the youth's beauty. Other poets only need to use artificial rhetoric to enhance anaemic figures.


Sonnet 82 is an English or Shakespearean sonnet. The English sonnet has three quatrains, followed by a final rhyming couplet. It follows the typical rhyme scheme of the form, abab cdcd efef gg and is composed in iambic pentameter, a type of poetic metre based on five pairs of metrically weak/strong syllabic positions. The 2nd line exemplifies a regular iambic pentameter:

×     /   ×    /     ×  /   ×  /    ×    / 
And therefore mayst without attaint o'erlook (82.2)
/ = ictus, a metrically strong syllabic position. × = nonictus.

The sonnet exhibits several metrical variations, some of which are only potential. The following lines may be read with metrical regularity, but also admit of a rightward movement of the first ictus in line 4 (resulting in a four-position figure, × × / /, sometimes referred to as a minor ionic); and an initial reversal in line 5:

×    ×    /    /  ×      /  ×   /   ×  / 
Of their fair subject, blessing every book.

  /  ×   ×   /   ×    /  ×    /  ×   / 
Thou art as fair in knowledge as in hue, (82.4-5)

An unambiguous reversal and minor ionic may be found in lines 6 and 8, respectively.

The meter demands line 10's "strainèd" to be pronounced with 2 syllables.[2]


  1. ^ Pooler, C[harles] Knox, ed. (1918). The Works of Shakespeare: Sonnets. The Arden Shakespeare [1st series]. London: Methuen & Company. OCLC 4770201. 
  2. ^ Booth 2000, p. 72.


First edition and facsimile
Variorum editions
Modern critical editions