Sonnet 88
Sonnet 88

When thou shalt be dispos'd to set me light,
And place my merit in the eye of scorn,
Upon thy side against myself I'll fight,
And prove thee virtuous, though thou art forsworn.
With mine own weakness being best acquainted,
Upon thy part I can set down a story
Of faults conceal'd wherein I am attainted,-
That thou in losing me shall win much glory:
And I by this will be a gainer too-
For bending all my loving thoughts on thee
The injuries that to my self I do,
Doing thee vantage, double vantage me,
Such is my love, to thee I so belong,
That for thy right myself will bear all wrong.

A good example of the octave/sestet division is seen in this sonnet. This poem, although slightly past the rival poet sequence, can be read, I feel, as addressed to the rival poet. In the octave, words such as "merit" and "virtuous", coupled with line 6 suggest an addressee of the same profession. But it very well may be said it is simply of friendship, reading line 4 as 'and prove that you are right, although you are renouncing our friendship'. In the second quatrain, Shakespeare supposes he can write a story on the friend's impairment of their relationship. 10-12: 'If by concentrating all my loving thoughts towards you, the injuries, as a result of my thought, that I will inflict upon myself, do prove to be advantageous to you, but twice that to me'. It is difficult to say whether "double" is hyperbolical or if it has some abstruse mathematical conceit (as seen in sonnet 6, lines 5-10). It does reflect upon "gainer" in line 9, which supports the reading of any gain to the friend as a gain to the poet (Shakespeare). 13-14: 'This is the way my love is, and I belong to you in the same respect that I will bear all wrongdoing in order to place you in the right'.

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