So, while I was writing the post immediately preceding this one, Sidney’s Sonnet 47, I visited the Poetry Foundation to see what information they had on the poem and a reliable text. Here’s what you will find (as of today, October 10th 2014):
So, there are all kinds of problems with this poem, but the most egregious is the typo. That’s okay. There are all kinds of typos in my own posts; although if someone were nice enough to bequeath $200,000,000 to me, I might hire — oh, I don’t know — an “archive editor” to correct my mistakes? So, I thought I’d “report a problem”:
Problem description: The mistakes: "Though" should read "tho'" "Let he go" should read "Let her go" Also, according to the best resource I've got, there are no exclamation points in the original poem. The poem should read: What, have I thus betrayed my liberty? Can those black beams such burning marks engrave In my free side? or am I born a slave, Whose neck becomes such yoke of tyranny? Or want I sense to feel my misery? Or sprite, disdain of such disdain to have? Who for long faith, tho' daily help I crave, May get no alms but scorn of beggary. Virtue awake, Beauty but beauty is, I may, I must, I can, I will, I do Leave following that which it is gain to miss. Let her go. Soft, but here she comes. Go to, Unkind, I love you not: O me, that eye Doth make my heart give to my tongue the lie.
Dear Patrick Gillespie, The differences in punctuation between our version and the one you found is the result of centuries of various editors silently altering such aspects. Our version is correct against our copy text. Sincerely, James Sitar Archive Editor The Poetry Foundation
Seriously? And that would include the typo? Does it get any more incompetent or bureaucratic? So, the text of the poem is obviously wrong, but by God if that’s what “the copy text” says, then that’s what goes to print.
As to punctuation, the “one I found” is based on Richard Dutton’s edition which is, itself, based on the 1598 Folio of Sidney’s Works. But what matter? I mean, how can Mary, the Countess of Pembroke, Sidney’s sister (and editor of the Folio edition), compare to “centuries of various editors silently altering” Sindey’s original? Obviously, the Poetry Foundation’s loyalty is to all those “altering” editors (centuries of) rather than to the Sidneys. And there you have it. That’s what a $200,000,000 endowment gets you. The take away? Don’t go to the Poetry Foundation if you want a reliable text.