“Sonnet 10: For shame! Deny that thou bear’st love to any” by William Shakespeare


For shame! Deny that thou bear’st love to any,
Who for thy self art so unprovident.
Grant, if thou wilt, thou art beloved of many,
But that thou none lov’st is most evident:
For thou art so possessed with murderous hate,
That ‘gainst thy self thou stick’st not to conspire,
Seeking that beauteous roof to ruinate
Which to repair should be thy chief desire.
O! change thy thought, that I may change my mind:
Shall hate be fairer lodged than gentle love?
Be, as thy presence is, gracious and kind,
Or to thyself at least kind-hearted prove:
Make thee another self for love of me,
That beauty still may live in thine or thee.

In this sonnet, Shakespeare’s criticism of the fair youth failing to marry and procreate gets a little harsher than in the previous nine sonnets. No longer does he try to coax the youth into accepting his paternal responsibilities; instead, he lashes out at him, accusing him of acting out of spite and disregard for future generations.

Accusing the youth of being “possessed with murderous hate” is pretty strong. No longer is the youth just being fickle, self-centered, or fearful. The youth is now depicted as hateful, to the point of destructiveness. I think this destructiveness exists on two levels. First, his actions are certainly destructive to the ones who love him, and according to line 3, there are many who love the youth. But I also see this as internal destructiveness. It almost feels like Shakespeare is accusing the youth of self-hatred. Line 12 certainly supports this interpretation, where Shakespeare entreats the youth “to thyself at least kind-hearted prove.”

It is not surprising that the tone has gotten stronger and more accusatory. This is a natural progression when someone feels that their advice and entreaties have been ignored. One cannot help but become angry, and this sonnet definitely expresses frustration at the continued refusal of the fair youth to marry and procreate.


Filed under Literature

14 responses to ““Sonnet 10: For shame! Deny that thou bear’st love to any” by William Shakespeare

  1. The Shakespeare “bug” must be going around!

  2. Hi Jeff,

    I’m not sure of the context, but is the speaker directing this to his own son? That would make sense as it sounds like the speaker is looking for assuredness of an heir.

    I admit to not having read much Shakespeare!


    • “For shame!” Ha ha – just kidding. So, with Shakespeare’s sonnets, the first 126 were written to an unnamed young man, referred to as the “fair youth.” There is speculation as to whether their friendship was more than just a platonic one, as some of the sonnets seem to express intimacy. So no, the youth would not have been Shakespeare’s son. In fact, Shakespeare only had one son, Hamnet, who died at the age of 11. As you can imagine, there is speculation regarding the connection between Hamnet and Hamlet, but alas, I’m not going down that rabbit hole today 😉

  3. Excellent analysis… This poem certainly made me think of Shakespeare’s Play “Romeo and Juliet”… Which one came first?…. (Just wondering)…
    Another great post, dear Jeff. Thanks for sharing and best wishes to you!
    ⭐ ★ ⭐ Aquileana 😀

    • Thanks Aquileana! I don’t know the answer to your question about which came first. If I find out, I’ll let you know. Have a wonderful evening and thank you for your comment.


  4. I have never spent time with Shakespeare’s sonnets–only what was required in school–while I have always enjoyed his plays and still do… Interesting analysis. Thanks.

    • Hi Sage. Thanks for the comment and I am glad you enjoyed the analysis. Personally, I find the plays to be way more rich, but the sonnets are still interesting, and it’s almost like bite-size chunks of Shakespeare 😉

      Hope you have a great weekend!

  5. I’m in the camp believing that Shakespeare is better watched than read. But that’s just the way my mind works. Not sure if you’ve seen it, but there is imho an excellent BBC TV production of the Collected Works (circa 1980). Last time I checked it was on YouTube. Stars like Roger Daltry and Patrick Stewart (Jean-Luc Picard, X-Men ) appear. Also some noted UK character actors.

    I liked it because the actors just spoke naturally. When the British accent is “put on” by North American actors, it usually comes off sort of pretentious, I feel. 🙂

    • Definitely true with the plays. As far as the sonnets go, well, I feel that poetry should ideally be read aloud. I’ll look up some of those clips when I have time. Thanks for the comment. Cheers!

  6. Yes, of course, the sonnets can’t really be performed. Or maybe they could be if someone stood up and read them with dramatic enhancements! Anyhow, I was leaping to the plays because I enjoyed watching them so much. True, I found myself tuning out a bit during the longer ones, but tuning back in whenever a fine phrase caught my attention. I can’t do that as easily with plain text. Video keeps moving…

    The other mistake I made was with the title. It’s the “Complete Dramatic Works of…” variously repackaged. I originally watched it on VHS thru the Ottawa Public Library. Now in Toronto, I found them transferred to DVD in the Toronto Public Library. We pay a good deal of civic taxes here. So I try to get a “rebate” through liberal library use, whenever possible. The DVD format worked for me but I see on Amazon that it won’t play on many players. 😦