Love's Labor's Lost "The Heavenly Rhetoric Of Thine Eye"
by William Shakespeare

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"The Heavenly Rhetoric Of Thine Eye"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

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Context: Berowne enters this scene with a paper in his hand which is a second poem he has written for his love. While he stands in the park, the king enters, also holding a paper. As the king begins reading, unaware of the other's presence, Berowne realizes that he also is reading a love poem. But as the king is considering sending the poem to his love, he hears Longaville approaching and quickly steps out of sight. Longaville is carrying a paper with a love poem which he too begins reading aloud. Each man expresses doubt that his poem is an effective expression of his passion. The first line of Longaville's poem asks, "Did not" the alluring and expressive eyes of his lover lead him to break his vow not to associate with women. He goes on to explain that he did not break his vow, because his love is a goddess; it is an earthly woman to whom his vow applies.

LONGAVILLEDid not the heavenly rhetoric of thine eye,'Gainst whom the world cannot hold argument,Persuade my heart to this false perjury?Vows for thee broke deserve not punishment.A woman I forswore, but I will prove,Thou being a goddess, I forswore not thee.My vow was earthly, thou a heavenly love.Thy grace being gained cures all disgrace in me.Vows are but breath, and breath a vapour is.Then thou, fair sun, which on my earth dost shine,Exhalest this vapour-vow; in thee it is.If broken then, it is no fault of mine:If by me broke, what fool is not so wiseTo lose an oath to win a paradise?