SONNET NO. 81Or I shall live your epitaph to make,
Or you survive when I in earth am rotten;
From hence your memory death cannot take,
Although in me each part will be forgotten.
Your name from hence immortal life shall have,
Though I, once gone, to all the world must die:
The earth can yield me but a common grave,
When you entombed in men's eyes shall lie.
Your monument shall be my gentle verse,
Which eyes not yet created shall o'er-read;
And tongues to be, your being shall rehearse,
When all the breathers of this world are dead;
You still shall live (such virtue hath my pen)
Where breath most breathes-even in the mouths of men.
Note the repetition of the following words, we find-your
epitaph, your memory, your name, your monument, your being.
In this sonnet, Bacon prophesies that his plays and other works
will live forever-long after he is dead. He will not live to
make their epitaph but his name (Shakes-spear) shall have
immortal life. He writes that he himself must die but his works
shall be entombed and shall be a monument to contain his
verse-to be read and spoken by people not yet born) eyes not
yet created and tongues not yet in existence). Bacon writes
that long after everyone then living shall have passed on-his
works shall live and that his pen is sufficiently powerful to
make this certain by the mouths of men (the actors of his plays).
If Will Shakspere wrote this sonnet, it is strange that he
should have written a sonnet about something like the plays in
which he never took the slightest interest in his lifetime. Bacon
in this sonnet is referring to his poetic muse and what it had
accomplished. The " I" in the first line is Bacon and the
words "your epitaph" "your memory" and "your name"
refer to his pen-name Shakes-spear.
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