Summary and Analysis Sonnet 69



Although the youth's enemies praise his appearance, they all but slander him in their private meetings. Contrasting the youth's outward beauty — "Those parts of thee that the world's eye doth view" — to his deeds, the poet, in a rare display of independence, criticizes his young friend. His argument is well-founded: Because the youth associates with these reckless and wasteful men who slander him behind his back, he must assume their vices. Recalling Sonnet 54, in which the poet discusses the beauty and sweet odor of roses, the poet asks the youth why he no longer has the rose's sweet smell. Surprisingly, his own answer is curt and unsympathetic: "But why thy odor matcheth not thy show, / The soil is this, that thou dost common grow." Because the youth associates with disreputable persons, he is becoming disreputable himself, more like a smelly weed than a rose.