Why is my verse so barren of new pride,
So far from variation of quick change?
Why with the time do I not glance aside
To new-found methods, and to compounds strange?
Why write I still all one, ever the same,
And keep invention in a noted weed,
That every word doth almost tell my name,
Showing their birth, and where they did proceed?
O know, sweet love, I always write of you,
And you and love are still my argument.
So all my best is dressing old words new,
Spending again what is already spent.
So is my love still telling what is told.
"Why does eveything I write always sound like meeeeee???"
Kind of nice to know that all writers are neurotic, isn't it? A special no-prize to anybody who can spot the sexual innuendo in the above lines.
When I run out of Shakespeare, I'm moving to Conrad, just so you know. The excerpts from his letters ought to keep us in writerly insecurity until the heat-death of the universe.
This bit: Why with the time do I not glance aside / To new-found methods, and to compounds strange? by the way, is the enjambed (meaning it runs over from one line to the next, instead of stopping tidily at ten syllables, sing-song, doggerel) iambic line that was Marlowe's innovation in theatrical blank verse, and which Shakespeare raised to the status of black magic.
And which later gave us such luminaries as Edna St. Vincent Millay (neurotic), Robert Frost (refreshingly sane and down to earth), and W.B.Yeats (even more neurotic, and usually pissed off at Aleister Crowley. Yes, that Aleister Crowley. Who said literature wasn't fun?).
Not necessarily in that order.
And thus, as I am wont to say, the folk process. Or to misquote: "Good artists are influenced. Great artists steal."
By the way, truepenny, danke schön for the tip on the Stephen Booth edition of the sonnets. His snarky comments in the end note alone are worth the price of admit.
In other words, I love In Search Of Shakespeare. I love Elizabeth's London. Did I mention they have MAPS?