That thou hast her, it is not all my grief, And yet it may be said I lov’d her dearly; That she hath thee, is of my wailing chief, A loss in love that touches me more nearly. Loving offenders, thus I will excuse ye: Thou dost love her, because thou know’st I love her; And for my sake even so doth she abuse me, Suffering my friend for my sake to approve her. If I lose thee, my loss is my love’s gain, And losing her, my friend hath found that loss; Both find each other, and I lose both twain. And both for my sake lay on me this cross: But here’s the joy: my friend and I are one: Sweet flattery! then she loves but me alone.
In this sonnet, Shakespeare is addressing a love triangle. Essentially, the fair youth, who is described as the speaker’s “friend,” has become romantically involved with the speaker’s mistress. What is most interesting is that the speaker seems less sad about losing his mistress than he is about losing the love of the fair youth. There are a couple ways to interpret this. On one hand, the argument can be made that the speaker has a romantic relationship with his friend, and that this relationship means more to him than his heterosexual relations. But another way to look at it is that Shakespeare is trying to convey the importance of friendship and camaraderie. While sexual relations may come and go, the deep bond of friendship is something rare.
In the final couplet, the speaker states “my friend and I are one.” Regardless of whether you interpret the friendship as a romantic or a platonic relationship, what is evident is the deep connection the speaker feels for his friend. Being as one, his friend’s happiness is essentially his own.
Thanks for stopping by and sharing in my musings. Have an inspired day.
Take all my loves, my love, yea, take them all; What hast thou then more than thou hadst before? No love, my love, that thou mayst true love call; All mine was thine before thou hadst this more. Then, if for my love thou my love receivest, I cannot blame thee for my love thou usest; But yet be blamed, if thou thyself deceives By wilful taste of what thyself refusest. I do forgive thy robbery, gentle thief, Although thou steal thee all my poverty: And yet, love knows, it is a greater grief To bear love’s wrong than hate’s known injury. Lascivious grace, in whom all ill well shows, Kill me with spites; yet we must not be foes.
In this sonnet, we are presented with a love triangle that is interesting even by modern standards. The speaker is a man who is in love with a younger man. The younger man decides to have sex with the older man’s wife or mistress. The older man, so enamored by the younger man, seeks to reconcile his feelings of love with the pain of jealousy and betrayal, as he becomes aware that his love for the younger man is not enough to satisfy the younger man’s desires.
What strikes me the most about this poem is the pure honesty. Shakespeare cuts right to the heart of complex human emotion and in a mere 14 lines conveys layers of passion and suffering. You can actually sense the speaker’s feeling of being torn between love and hate, compassion and anger, trying desperately to reconcile the conflicting emotions within. And while we may not have personally experienced the same situation, I suspect we can all relate to the feeling of being torn between love and anger.
I hope you enjoyed this poem. Have a great day, and keep on reading.
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