I was reading Ecclesiastes the other day, and found the verse that I was looking for - the one that I was reminded of when I read Sonnet 59.
It's Ecclesiastes 1:9, 10 (KJV).
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.But Shakespeare's Sonnet 59 is a (not so) subtle refutation to the verses' argument that the world repeats itself. Here's what the Bard says about his friend.
Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.
If there be nothing new, but that which isHe argues that even if there had been praises for beauties in the old times, they must have been given to beauties inferior than his friend. Meaning: his friend's beauty 'has not been before'. Tricky Bard.
Hath been before, how are our brains beguil'd,
Which, labouring for invention, bear amiss
The second burthen of a former child!
O, that record could with a backward look,
Even of five hundred courses of the sun,
Show me your image in some antique book,
Since mind at first in character was done!
That I might see what the old world could say
To this composed wonder of your frame;
Whether we are mended, or whe'r better they,
Or whether revolution be the same.
O! sure I am, the wits of former days
To subjects worse have given admiring praise.