Why are these present perfect?

From you have I been [A] absent in the spring,
proud-pied April dress’d in all his trim
Hath put [A’] a spirit of youth in every thing
That heavy Saturn laugh’d and leap’d [B] with him.
Yet nor the lays of
birds nor the sweet smell
Of different flowers in odor and in
Could make me any summer’s story tell.
Or from their
proud lap pluck them while they grew;
Nor did I wonder at the
lily’s white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;
They were but sweet, but figures of delight;
Drawn after you, you
pattern of all those.
Yet seem’d it winter still, and, you
As with your shadow I with these did play.
Woolf, To the Lighthouse, p.132; Sonnet 98, William Shakespeare)

The present perfect ([A] and [A’]) seems not refer to the past Reference Time [B]. I guess the present perfects are selected to say the gloomy away from you has lasted till now. Is this right?


This reflects usage at a time before the line between past and present perfect was as clearly drawn as it is now in formal usage. Shakespeare employs the present perfect intially to portray what he is telling as a present memory, before moving into the past for the rest.

In fact, this kind of movement from perfect into past is still very frequently encountered in colloquial registers:

I’ve been in Washington in the springtime, when the cherries were blooming, and it was a very pretty sight.

Even in formal usage it would be acceptable if only the first, opening verb were in the present perfect, and not the verb at the start of the second line. But today we would ordinarily cast all of these in the simple past.

Source : Link , Question Author : Listenever , Answer Author : StoneyB on hiatus

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