In order to perform a successful analysis of Shakespeares "Sonnet 146" that would result in deciphering the missing phrase, the first analysis must be done specifically on the registers surrounding the missing phrase, followed by an analysis of the similarities between the various metaphors that exist throughout the poem. These two forms of analysis will add much to our knowledge of the poem, but it is only when seek to understand the souls inner motivations, as they are represented in the poem, that we can successful answer what the missing phrase should be. These three forms of analysis will take us through the dark, controlling, and controlled aspects of the soul that lead to the conclusion that Shakespeare intended for the soul to be "Seized by rebel forces."
The registers that surround the missing phrase are registers of turmoil and suffering, and, consequently, demand the missing phrase do likewise. Consider lines one through three that read, "Poor soul the center of my sinful earth these rebel that thee array, / Why dost thou pine within and suffer dearth." Shakespeare clearly had no intentions of establishing an atmosphere that was stress free or relaxed. On the contrary, registers of war, and spiritual and inner suffering plague the beginning of the poem. In the first few lines a lone, the soul is described as poor and the center of a sinful earth. He pines within and suffers. More importantly, he is accused of dispelling rebel forces. It is not to say that the sonnet is completely void of uplifting or brighter registers. Registers that relate to divinity and the release of tension exist, but not until lines ten and beyond. The registers in the begging half of the sonnet demand the missing phrase be substituted with something that suggests war, loss, or suffering.
"Seized by" does fill the requirements established by the registers that surround it, and we must rely on the similarities between the metaphors to prove that the soul originally had power to be seized. Two explicit metaphors in "Sonnet 146" are the metaphors that relate the soul to the Captain of an army, and the metaphor that relates him to someone maintaining a mansion. At first glance, they may seem to be opposing ideas, but their similarities are striking. Lines four through six belong to the mansion metaphor as Shakespeare accuses the soul of, "Painting thy walls so costly gay? / Why so large a cost dost thou upon thy mansion spend." In a visual contrast, Shakespeare describes the rebels as, "powers that (the soul) arrays."(2). In both instances, the soul is the character that performs the action. He spends the money on his mansion, and arrays his army. Proving that the soul was once in power, the two metaphors set the stage for the rebel forces to do their seizing.
The registers set the tone, the metaphors proved it could be done, but it is understanding the souls motivation that confirms that he did not casually surrender, but was seized. We know he is at war, and the natural question is, "Why?" Unfortunately, a hope for victory does not appear to be his primary motivation. Lines three, eight and nine paint the sad situation of the soul: "Why dost thou pine within and suffer dearth shall worms, inheritors of this excess, / Eat up thy charge?" Again, lines five and six ask, "Why so large a cost, having so short a lease, / Dost thou upon thy fading mansions spend?" His mansion is fading. His charge is being threatened. It seems as though he never had a hope for winning, but he kept on fighting. It wasnt rational that kept him fighting, but a blind addiction. Regardless of the actual source of the addiction, the irrational and stubborn motivation of the soul proves his powers could have left him by no other way than by being seized.
Indeed the missing phrase is a mystery, but by no means an unsolvable one. The theme set by the registers, the similarities between the metaphors, and the conclusions to be drawn upon the souls motivation solidly confirm the Shakespeare intended for the soul to be seized by the rebel powers.