Off. Edmund Blair Leighton.



William Shakespeare


Farewell! thou art too dear for my possessing,

And like enough thou know’st thy estimate:

The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing;

My bonds in thee are all determinate.

For how do I hold thee but by thy granting?

And for that riches where is my deserving?

The cause of this fair gift in me is wanting,

And so my patent back again is swerving.

Thyself thou gavest, thy own worth then not knowing,

Or me, to whom thou gavest it, else mistaking;

So thy great gift, upon misprision growing,

Comes home again, on better judgement making.

Thus have I had thee, as a dream doth flatter,

In sleep a king, but waking no such matter.


In this poem, ‘dear’ means ‘costly,’ A ‘misprision’ is an erroneous judgement, especially about the value or identity of something.

4 thoughts on “Sonnet LXXXVII”

  1. This is one of my favorite Shakespearean sonnets!

    And the painting is amazing! Look at the folds of her dress! The flowers on the floor look as if they were cast down. Perhaps, she has refused his proposal as well as his gift of beauty.

    I wonder exactly what type of flowers they were and their symbolism. Does anyone have an idea? I think I see a daisy and a couple of pink roses; daisies symbolize purity and loyal love as well as innocence, and pink roses symbolize everlasting friendship. I also think the white flowers scattered in the grass are baby’s breath, symbolizing sincerity and purity of heart. Also the young tree shooting up from behind her is an oak representing courage and strength, which seems to also be reflected in her visage.

    When I saw this painting, I immediatly cried, “Poor Mr. Darcy!”

    1. The painting does depict a rejected proposal, and is a companion to Leighton’s portrayal of another couple’s courtship: “On the Threshold.” Perhaps, like Mr. Darcy, the spurned suitor will meet with a better reception after misunderstandings have cleared.

  2. Or perhaps she shall once again cry, “I spurn thee like a cur out of my way!” LOL I still love that quote!

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