Is it thy will, thy image
should keep open
My heavy eyelids to the weary night?
Dost thou desire my slumbers should be broken,
While shadows like to thee do mock my sight?
Is it thy spirit that thou send'st from thee
So far from home into my deeds to pry,
To find out shames and idle hours in me,
The scope and tenor of thy jealousy?
O, no! thy love, though much, is not so great:
It is my love that keeps mine eye awake:
Mine own true love that doth my rest defeat,
To play the watchman ever for thy sake:
For thee watch I, whilst thou dost wake elsewhere,
From me far off, with others all too near.
The main burden of this sonnet seems to be 'Why do you torture me so?' and to a large extent the poem has to be read in reverse. For initially the suggestion is made that the beloved sends out spies to pry jealously into the poet's activities, but by the time we reach the end it is the writer himself who is staying awake, watching and imagining every move his beloved makes in an anguish of jealousy. Yet it is never quite stated this way, and the poet claims that his love is so much greater than the youth's, and it is that which keeps him awake, not the youth's love for him. And he lies awake like a watchman, protectively, so he claims, but the last line makes all too clear that it is not pure, disinterested love that keeps him awake, but the consuming fire of jealousy: an awareness that the loved one is far away, enjoying himself, with others close at hand, in his company, delighting in him, giving him pleasure, doing heaven knows what.
That is the image which keeps the poet awake, hovering forever in front of his wakeful eyes, disturbing his rest, giving him nightmares. And in the end he becomes just as pruriently keen on spying out the shames and idle hours in his beloved as he supposed the beloved was keen to do to him in the opening octet.
The balance of the poem is therefore complete, with the supposed or tentatively guessed at spying activities of the beloved (described in the octet) transmuted into the hideously jealous agony of the lover as he passes the long hours of the night imagining the worst horrors of the youth's unfaithfulness.
It is also worth noting that this sonnet continues the analysis of jealous watchfulness initiated in 57 and 58, (see note to line 6 below), confirming the insertion of Sonnet 60 as a set time-piece.
The 1609 Quarto Version
IS it thy wil,thy Image ſhould keepe open
My heauy eielids to the weary night?
Doſt thou deſire my ſlumbers ſhould be broken,
While ſhadowes like to thee do mocke my ſight?
Is it thy ſpirit that thou ſend'ſt from thee
So farre from home into my deeds to prye,
To find out ſhames and idle houres in me,
The skope and tenure of thy Ielouſie?
O no,thy loue though much,is not ſo great,
It is my loue that keepes mine eie awake,
Mine owne true loue that doth my reſt defeat,
To plaie the watch-man euer for thy ſake.
For thee watch I,whilſt thou doſt wake elſewhere,
From me farre of , with others all to neere.