Summary and Analysis
A less subdued poet challenges the rival poet. In contrast to the intellectually fashionable rival, the poet possesses an intuitive, almost spiritual inspiration. As wise as his rival is merely clever, he agrees with the young man that his verse may be inferior to the beauty of its subject, whose "worth" is greater than the poet's praise. The sonnet implies that the young man is too easily moved by the rival poet's flattery and will eventually tire of the "strained touches rhetoric can lend." But the poet's simple, unpretentious verse presents the youth in no false adornment, for the young man's beauty is more fanciful than any imaginative verse could ever be. Abhorring the "gross painting" that is in vogue with the rival poet and others like him, the poet emphasizes his own enduring ideals "In true plain words by thy true-telling friend"; in the final couplet, he foregoes his customary deference and courteous voice to register his indignation at his rival's exaggerated compliments, over which he is certain that his simple truths will prevail.