SONNET NO. 59
If there be nothing new, but that which is,
Hath been before, how are our brains beguiled
Which labouring for invention , bear amiss
The second burthen of a former child!
0, that record could with a backward look
Even of five hundred courses of the sun,
Shew me your image in some antique book
Since mind at first in character was done?
That I might see what the old world could say
To this composed wonder of your frame
Whether we are mended or where better they
Or whether revolution be the same,
0, sure I am, the wits of former days
To subjects worse have given admiring praise.
5th Line. Record = Memory.
8th Line. Means since thought was first expressed in writing.
13th Line. Wits men of genius.
Here the man who wrote this sonnet tells us that if everything
that happens now has happened before, our brains are beguiled
(deceived) when they try, when labouring to invent (contrive)
something which has already been (the second burthen of a
former child). He wonders that if he could go back five hundred
years he could find in some antique book your image (the first
folio) when men's minds were put into writing (when mind at
first in character was done). He wishes that he could see what
the old world (former times) would say about the first folio
(this composed wonder of your frame). He wonders if people
in his day were better off than people in olden times or if there
has been no change and everything is just the same. But he is
certain that the writers of former times had given admiring
praise to subjects (works) much worse than the first folio.
If the reference is not to the first folio will the Stratfordians
explain what Will Shakspere means by "The composed wonder
of your frame." This wonder (admirable) frame (structure)
composed (set up for printing) refers to his great work the first