Beauty, Its Effect.

I have been touched with her, and have ta'en (Unclear
The acquaintance of her beauty like a dream,
Or as it were a flower of Faerie breathed
By an immortal; for the light and air
Of life and love so, so endue her, she
Puts on and off the sweetest favours like
The momentary raiment that
A goddess dons and doffs.

by Robert Crawford

Comments (4)

This and the following sonnet deal with the heaviness of separation, caused by a journey which the poet has to make. He travels on horseback, the normal means of locomotion in Shakespeare's day. The condition of the roads, heavily rutted and often flooded, made travel in carriages impracticable, other than in towns. Post horses could be hired from the frequent Inns which were situated along the highways and in the various towns on route. But travellers frequently would have their own horse, which would carry them between 20 or 30 miles in a day, a much slower method than hiring the post horses. Shakespeare refers to the horse in this poem as if it were his own. But in any case he is not much concerned to speed on his journey, since it only seems to lead him onward into sorrow.
It would be interesting to know what the journey was to which the poet alludes. Was it a trip back to his native Stratford, which tradition tells us he made on numerous occasions, choosing the Oxford route rather than the one through Ayelsbury and Banbury? But of course we have no means of knowing the answer to such a question, and it is probable that the two sonnets summarise the feelings arising from having to make any and every journey which the poet makes and which thereby sunder him from his friend.
Despite the melancholy of the poem, it is possible to find humour in the cleverness and wit in the description of the horse sharing the rider's unwillingness to travel. One could even see it as one of the 'sugared sonnets' which amusingly depict the boundless love the poet has for his friend and which show how that love enters into every aspect of his existence, including the most mundane and tedious, as this one of going on a journey.
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