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Sonnets > #147 My love is as a fever, longing still

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message 1: by Martin (new)

Martin | 16 comments See post 1 of the thread "our sonnet reads"

The first sonnet is number 147,

My love is as a fever, longing still
For that which longer nurseth the disease,
Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,
The uncertain sickly appetite to please.
My reason, the physician to my love,
Angry that his prescriptions are not kept,
Hath left me, and I desperate now approve
Desire is death, which physic did except.
Past cure I am, now reason is past care,
And frantic-mad with evermore unrest,
My thoughts and my discourse as madmen's are,
At random from the truth vainly express'd.
For I have sworn thee fair and thought thee bright,
Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.


message 2: by Steve (new)

Steve Evans (steveevansofpahiatua) | 47 comments Hi Martin not sure why this starts at 147. . .fyi the blog "Interesting Literature" is doing one sonnet a week and is now in the 20s.

Whatever thanks for doing this. A worth project.


message 3: by DavidE (new)

DavidE (shaxton) | 358 comments Glad to see the sonnet project is up and running, Martin. Am I correct that Sonnet 147 was chosen randomly? By some piece of software, maybe?

Reading the sonnet in isolation like this does make me appreciate it much more than I have in the past. It's the frenzy, or the frenzied despair, that strikes a loud bell, at least for me. The tension mounts in each quatrain, but I must say the third quatrain really packs a wallop. And then those last two lines, about as bitter as to be found in any love poem.


message 4: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2557 comments Mod
Steve and David, Martine posted a kind of "intro" post in this section....loosely describing the approach to choosing sonnets.


I for one, am intrigued by starting at something other than "the beginning" LOL

Maybe we will have a paradigm shift....having it out of the stereotypical order ????


message 5: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2557 comments Mod
"The uncertain sickly appetite to please."

I am surprised at the strong psychological insight to this line. It is very much reminding me of how if we have not resolved our childhood needs, or wounds...we will bring childhood emotions and needs to an adult relationship.

I am thinking of people who really seem to always be submissive and go along with others and desire to get "approval". The child wants approval and love from the parent/caregiver. These are youthful needs....one hopes when one becomes an adult...the needs of a child have transformed to more independent healthy interdependent motives.

"Pleasers have certain personality characteristics that are developed in childhood. They are often perfectionists who were influenced by very demanding parental expectations and/or criticism. Pleasers often, but not necessarily come from unhappy homes with high conflict or emotionally distant parents."

http://www.chvbv.ca/pleasers-and-cont...

And from Psychology Today...

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/...


message 6: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2557 comments Mod
"Desire is death"

This is something of interest to me as it has a fair bit of significance within Buddhistm. Desire is the root of suffering in Buddhism.

"The Second Truth, on the other hand, seeks to determine the cause of suffering. In Buddhism, desire and ignorance lie at the root of suffering. By desire, Buddhists refer to craving pleasure, material goods, and immortality, all of which are wants that can never be satisfied."

From PBS ...

http://www.pbs.org/edens/thailand/bud...

I suppose perhaps desire might be similar to Christians consideration of "coveting".


message 7: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2557 comments Mod
This sonnet to me...is the portrayal of a part of the personality, undeveloped and not taking the higher road for love or spirituality....but rather trapped in grasping. This is not the love that I understand...but more a love centered in control, or power...only for superficial gratification. And the portrayal to be is genius. It's so brilliant and profound, I felt a bit ill reading it. I can imagine the kind of suffering and I have compassion for the person trapped in this terrible head space.


message 8: by DavidE (new)

DavidE (shaxton) | 358 comments It's interesting that the topic of the poem, announced in the very first two words, is "my love." It is not, this is to say, "my lust"--which is how we moderns have been conditioned to see it. In other words, I wonder if part of the insight to be gleaned from the poem is the contrast with our own time--a time that insists on distinguishing between 'love' and 'lust.' Perhaps Shakespeare's time did not feel the need to make such a distinction, that 'love' includes both the good bits and the shitty bits. Just a thought.


message 9: by Jonathan (last edited Feb 01, 2017 08:43PM) (new)

Jonathan Moran | 161 comments Although he personifies it as a fever, the love is not the problem here. Rather, the problem is his object:

For I have sworn thee fair and thought thee bright,
Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.

The speaker sees an outward beauty, and an inward ugliness, yet he continues to be drawn in by the dissembling pulchritude.

S loved dichotomies, and we find a stark one here between Love and Reason. The speaker understands that Reason is in the right, to wit the object is "black as hell, as dark as night". But, the speaker would not obey reason, and so Dr. reason deserted him/her for this reason, excuse the pun.

It is striking how the speaker is aware that he is perpetuating a lethal sickness, but is now beyond any hope of extricating himself from it.


message 10: by Martin (last edited Feb 02, 2017 03:49AM) (new)

Martin | 16 comments David, Candy, Jonathan, what excellent notes, and thanks for the encouragement in getting a "sonnet read" section set up.

David, you have the advantage of me in appreciating this sonnet more with this read. I read the sonnets right through for the first time last year, with care as I thought, but have no memory of this one at all! I wonder how many more I have quite forgotten. But I don't get your point about "lust". Lust is sexual desire, which is not explicit in this poem surely.

I had difficulty with "I desperate now approve / Desire is death, which physic did except." (I'm trying not to look at the usual footnote explanations.) I take it to mean that "Without hope now, I recognise the fatal nature of my illness of desire, which my physician would not accept." The difficult word is "approve", which in S can be a variant of "prove", which itself can mean "test", as in Hotspur's "Nay, task me to my word, approve me, lord." But here "approve" is carrying its modern meaning, as in Candy's post #5 about "approval".

Note how "longing" in line 1 becomes "longer" in line 2.

The idea of love as an illness feeding itself has, I suppose, always been a commonplace,

I attempt from love's sickness to fly-y-y-y-y in vain,
Since I am myself my own fever and pain

--- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PskGe...

But I think it is the strong sense of the psychology of illness that makes the poem live for us today. Like Candy, I found this powerfully captured. During illness the doctor becomes such an important figure to us: doctors have knowledge and wisdom, we hang on their words and suggestions. But here the patient feeds on the illness, and is like an addict who is found smuggling the much-needed drug into the rehab centre and gets abandoned as a hopeless case.

Our natures do pursue,
Like rats that ravin down their proper bane,
A thirsty evil; and when we drink we die.


message 11: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Moran | 161 comments Martin wrote: "But here the patient feeds on the illness, and is like an addict who is found smuggling the much-needed drug into the rehab centre and gets abandoned as a hopeless case. ."

Martin, first of all, thanks for undertaking this project.

The idea of an addict came into my head too when I read this. I have at least one negative addiction, and I immediately thought, "I love my addiction so much, that I would not take the doctor's advice either." So, I could certainly sympathize with the speaker.


message 12: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Moran | 161 comments Candy wrote: "The uncertain sickly appetite to please."

Candy, what do you make of the word "uncertain" here. Is the speaker referring to his/her own uncertainly of succeeding in pleasing this person he/she loves?


message 13: by Martin (new)

Martin | 16 comments Well, as I said, I found that bit very difficult. Looking back, I see my gloss was a bit ambiguous, "Without hope now, I recognise the fatal nature of my illness of desire, which my physician would not accept." The "which" referred to desire, so it should have been,

"Without hope now, I recognise the fatal nature of my illness of desire, and this desire is what my physician would not accept."

The physician advising the patient to get rid of the desire.

Yes, "physic" suggests the medicine more than the doctor, but then the verb "except" (= setting to one side) is a problem.

--- But Lea is the last person I want to disagree with!

We need an arbitrator! Would David, armed say with an Arden edition of the sonnets, be prepared to judge on this and similar semantic disputes?


message 14: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2557 comments Mod
Jonathan wrote: "Candy wrote: "The uncertain sickly appetite to please."

Candy, what do you make of the word "uncertain" here. Is the speaker referring to his/her own uncertainly of succeeding in pleasing this per..."


Such a good question.

I think it means to me...that when we are motivated to please others....the result is in another persons control. It is not just giving and sharing...it is a master/servant relationship. so if I do something for someone in order to please them...I am uncertain of what they want....of whether or not they will be pleased...and whether I will get what I want...to be accepted or approved

I can't imagine how stressful this would be....for one thing....dont we usually know exactly what our loved ones enjoy and like?

If their love of us depends on us pleasing them...that is not at all well-adjusted. It would be a gamble every time we did anything.

But...I should think about this a little more...


message 15: by DavidE (new)

DavidE (shaxton) | 358 comments For what it's worth, here's a pic of the 1609 quarto version

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message 16: by DavidE (new)

DavidE (shaxton) | 358 comments I don't have convenient access to the Arden edition (and after my experience with Arden electronic version for Troilus and Cressida, I'm not keen to buy the e-text). That said, I think there are a few good web sites which offer up good annotations.

Clearly the most problematic lines are the concluding ones of the second quatrain:

and I desperate now approve
Desire is death, which physic did except.

My own view is that sometimes these problems cannot be solved. It could be we are dealing with corrupted text, and it could be that Shakespeare left it deliberately obscure (except, perhaps, to an inside crowd). And when the problem involves a pronoun (as here), I think we just have to recognize that Shakespeare was sometimes not at all fussy about his pronouns and their antecedents.

At any rate, here's the rather lengthy annotation offered up by one web site (http://www.shakespeares-sonnets.com/s...

A line of uncertain meaning which is variously glossed. 'Desire, such as I experience it, will bring my death, although the appropriate medicine would have averted it'. 'Any desire which militates against good medical practice brings death to the patient'. 'Sexual desire shortens life, but medicine can allay the effects of it'. 'Sexual desire under certain conditions which would cause physicians to forbid it, will prove fatal'. The difficulty is partly in the word 'except', but also in the compression of 'desire is death'. except probably means here 'took exception to'. (See SB.p.518-9). There was a belief that every orgasm shortened one's life by a day. There may also be a reference to venereal disease in 'desire is death'. It was widespread and often fatal.


message 17: by Jonathan (last edited Feb 02, 2017 07:37PM) (new)

Jonathan Moran | 161 comments David wrote: "'Desire, such as I experience it, will bring my death, although the appropriate medicine would have averted it'."

Very helpful David, thanks. Couldn't we take your rendering of except and come up with this:

'Desire, such as I experience it, will bring my death, although the doctor took exception to it'.

If you go to the previous line, and add in the word "approve", I think we get the speaker's sentiment:

"I approve of this desire, even though I know it will bring my death, and that the doctor took exception to it."

Someone said, "You do not have anything to live for, unless you have something worth dying for"--or something to that effect. I believe that this is the speaker's case--he had found something worth dying for.


message 18: by DavidE (new)

DavidE (shaxton) | 358 comments Jonathan wrote: "Someone said, "You do not have anything to live for, unless you have something worth dying for"--or something to that effect. I believe that this is the speaker's case--he had found something worth dying for. ."

Don't the last two lines of the sonnet contradict that sentiment, Jonathan?


message 19: by DavidE (new)

DavidE (shaxton) | 358 comments Here's the very talented Simon Callow reading Sonnet 147 (if this link works!)

https://soundcloud.com/shaxton-317772...


message 20: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Moran | 161 comments David wrote: "Don't the last two lines of the sonnet contradict that sentiment, Jonathan?"

I don't think so, but possibly. I know the last two lines in a Shakespearean Sonnet are supposed to present a twist, but we have to pretend we don't know that since this is the "first one" we've read, otherwise we are putting them in some kind of context, and thus we are breaking Martin's rules.

That said, in the first 12 lines, the speaker realizes the object of his/her love is a disease which will kill him/her, but intends to persist in feeding the fever. What makes you think his/her realization that the object of his/her affection is "as black as hell" and "as dark as night" would change his mind?


message 21: by Martin (new)

Martin | 16 comments Don't worry about breaking "Martin's rules" Jonathan!

I agree with the previous post.

I felt that the placing of the adjectives in the last line was the opposite way round from what I would naturally expect, namely "as dark as hell, as black as night."


message 22: by Gabriel (new)

Gabriel | 170 comments Lea, I'm interested in your comment about doctors and physic. I'm sure you're right that physic usually means medicine not doctor, and that doctors were often seen as quacks, but Shakespeare's use of them seems to vary from bad to good. Macbeth says 'throw physic to the dogs' when the doctor says he can't help Lady M's (mental) ilness. In a different sonnet there's the line 'folly, doctor like, controlling skill'. But in All's Well, Helena uses the physician skills learned from her father to cure the King of France when no-one else could, and in Pericles there's a lord who has trained up as a physician to make himself useful and saved hundreds of lives.


message 23: by DavidE (new)

DavidE (shaxton) | 358 comments Jonathan wrote: "That said, in the first 12 lines, the speaker realizes the object of his/her love is a disease which will kill him/her, but intends to persist in feeding the fever. What makes you think his/her realization that the object of his/her affection is "as black as hell" and "as dark as night" would change his mind? "

I think where we differ, Jonathan, is in your contention that the speaker "had found something worth dying for." I would argue that the speaker would like nothing more than getting rid of the beloved . . . but how?


message 24: by Gabriel (new)

Gabriel | 170 comments Thanks for all the comments, which have expanded my appreciation of this sonnet. But I'm still left with the feeling that something went wrong with the two lines about 'desperate now approve/ desire is death' - it reads like there's a typo or grammatical error somewhere. But, more excitingly, I've just noticed a big ambiguity in the last two lines. They sound at first like 'I've now at last admitted the truth to myself'. But he's just spent eight lines telling us that his reason has left him. So possibly this concluding judgement is from his madness, not his sanity. And in fact they sound like raving oversimplification compared with the insightful struggle of the preceding lines.


message 25: by Martin (last edited Feb 04, 2017 02:02AM) (new)

Martin | 16 comments I think Lea has a grudge against doctors because their use of the title denigrates the value of her hard-won PhD.

;-)

Throughout S, doctors, or people able to cure, are usually given the reverence due to them. Gabriel's two examples are excellent. The skill may combine with a priestly function: Friar Lawrence's herbalism, or the Abbess looking after mental disorder in Comedy of Errors. Doctor Caius has a comic function: in Merry Wives, a comedy of humours, he should be balancing the humours following Galen, but is himself completely bad tempered. Even so, his own cure of others might work for all we know.

S's son-in-law, Hall, was a well-respected doctor.

I think this is important because the personification of reason as a doctor in this sonnet adds to, rather than detracts from, the status of reason in the make-up of the mind.

Gabriel, I really don't think the dificulty of "I desperate now approve / Desire is death, which physic did except." is a result of textual corruption. But there is an extreme compression of ideas -- we will find many more examples I'm sure. The adjective "desperate" qualifies "I", "Desire is death", a compression of "Desire, which is death", is the object of "approve" and also of "except". The two verbs "approve" and "except" have meanings that work, and if unusual, we must remember the need to fit them into the rhyme scheme.


message 26: by DavidE (new)

DavidE (shaxton) | 358 comments Martin wrote: " I really don't think the dificulty of "I desperate now approve / Desire is death, which physic did except." is a result of textual corruption. But there is an extreme compression of ideas -- we will find many more examples I'm sure. The adjective "desperate" qualifies "I", "Desire is death", a compression of "Desire, which is death", is the object of "approve" and also of "except". The two verbs "approve" and "except" have meanings that work, and if unusual, we must remember the need to fit them into the rhyme scheme."

What meaning are you ascribing to "except," Martin?


message 27: by Martin (new)

Martin | 16 comments COED definition,

except: (transitive meanings, of which 1 and 4 are relevant)

1 to take or leave out (of any aggregate or whole); to exclude; to omit 1530.

4. To protest against, SHAKS.

Which is why I take "physic" to mean "doctor". The doctor can advise the patient to exclude desire from his mind; I don't see how the doctor's medicine can.


message 28: by Gabriel (new)

Gabriel | 170 comments Lea, the site seems to work fine for me now. I don't use phone or apps.


message 29: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2557 comments Mod
I use my phone about half the time. It does seem to be limited.

However..this is coming from someone who can't post pics here...even from my desk top.

Great comments. Very much enjoying the analysis.


message 30: by DavidE (new)

DavidE (shaxton) | 358 comments I was just reading James Baldwin's 1964 essay called “Why I Stopped Hating Shakespeare,” and thought that some of his observations well suited our discussion of this sonnet. In the essay he calls Shakespeare “the last bawdy writer in the English language” and finds a deep connection to his own black ancestors “who evolved the sorrow songs, the blues, and jazz, and created an entirely new idiom in an overwhelmingly hostile place.”

He continues:

“Again, I was listening very hard to jazz and hoping, one day, to translate it into language [as he did so beautifully in the short story “Sonny's Blues”], and Shakespeare’s bawdiness became very important to me, since bawdiness was one of the elements of jazz and revealed a tremendous, loving, and realistic respect for the body, and that ineffable force which the body contains, which Americans have mostly lost, which I had experienced only among Negroes, and of which I had then been taught to be ashamed.

“My relationship, then, to the language of Shakespeare revealed itself as nothing less than my relationship to myself and my past. Under this light, this revelation, both myself and my past began slowly to open, perhaps the way a flower opens at morning, but more probably the way an atrophied muscle begins to function, or frozen fingers to thaw.”

I am going to let Baldwin's words speak for themselves.


message 31: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2557 comments Mod
Thank you for that quote, David.


message 32: by Lea (new)

Lea (learachel) | 197 comments David wrote: "I was just reading James Baldwin's 1964 essay called “Why I Stopped Hating Shakespeare,” and thought that some of his observations well suited our discussion of this sonnet. In the essay he calls S..."

I just ordered the book this essay came from, thanks for sharing David!


message 33: by Stephen (new)

Stephen (havan) | 15 comments For I have sworn thee fair and thought thee bright,
Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.


It seems to me that these lines are addressed to the state of being in love and not to the beloved one. In that way isn't this a bit of what Romeo is suffering from at the beginning of R&J? It's not so much the girl that he's in love with but the state of being in love.


message 34: by Martin (new)

Martin | 16 comments That is certainly true. After the opening "my love is . . ." you are almost expecting to hear something about what the poet's beloved is like, a red, red rose, or an arbutus or something, but it turns out to be the feeling of love that is the subject. It shows the ambiguity in the words "my love", either the person loved or the inner feeling of love.


message 35: by Alex (new)

Alex Mesman | 9 comments Jonathan wrote: "Although he personifies it as a fever, the love is not the problem here. Rather, the problem is his object:

For I have sworn thee fair and thought thee bright,
Who art as black as hell, as dark a..."


When I read my version of the sonnet in The Arden Shakespeare and I read the annotations, this seems to be their idea as well. Seems right to me too.


message 36: by Martin (new)

Martin | 16 comments Welcome Alex. (Is your Arden Shakespeare sonnets the one edited by Katherine Duncan-Jones?)


message 37: by Alex (new)

Alex Mesman | 9 comments Thank you. Interesting threads so far. I've wanted to read the sonnets for a long time now, and this seems a perfect way to do it.
Better than reading them intermittently over a period of years :)

My edition is indeed the Katherine Duncan Jones one.


message 38: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) Stephen wrote: "For I have sworn thee fair and thought thee bright,
Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.

It seems to me that these lines are addressed to the state of being in love and not to the beloved ..."


Yes, I think he is referring to the state he is in, but rather than love or lust, it sounds like obsession to me (someone mentioned addiction, which would be similar). Obsession can feel like love, and in fact that's what we convince ourselves of in order to justify the obsession. If the love is unrequited, or if she/he is just NOT obsessed and is playing with S, and teases or is mean or thoughtless, it could have the same effect as what we see in the poem.

It also sounds like the "beloved" might be entertaining other suitors, maybe much more seriously, but still stringing S along. Meanwhile, S just sits by the phone, hating himself, waiting for the call...


message 39: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2557 comments Mod
I like the idea of S sitting by the phone!

Is there an image of that online somewhere? LOL


message 40: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2557 comments Mod
Bob Said....(I'm copying and pasting his messages from a different thread to here...)

Bob said 'In sonnet #147, the speaker starts by comparing his love to a fever. But his is a most unusual fever because the speaker doesn’t want it to depart. Instead, he would prefer to put up with the darker, sicker side of his love than leave. His rational mind pulls at the speaker to leave this diseased relationship, but his uncontrollable emotions tell him to stay. His powerful dilemma is, however, he KNOWS his thinking is the safe and healthy course, but his HEART is “past cure,” and cannot be overruled. This strum und dram is actually making him “mad evermore unrest,” and as a madman, he admits he sees the world one way (“I have sworn thee fair”) but the reality may indeed, be quite another. Namely, “black as hell.”

In short, my heart wants what it wants and thinking otherwise won’t change a thing. Furthermore, I don’t give a damn. '


Bob said 'I just re-read Martin's comment from early February regarding the last line, "Who art as black as hell, as dark as night." I believe you're correct to write that most poets would write, "dark as hell and black as night." If true, I wondered why Shakespeare turned the phrase around and thought perhaps that was his way of saying the speaker has lost touch with reality. What came up was an equivalency with Hamlet, who starts off merely pretending to be mad and then falls into a real madness. Which means the speaker is playing the part of an "unreliable narrator," a rare occurrence in my experience. But this idea is borne out in line 9, "Past cure I am, now reason is past care." '


message 41: by Bobby (new)

Bobby | 57 comments Candy wrote: "I like the idea of S sitting by the phone!

Is there an image of that online somewhere? LOL"


People don't often sit by phones anymore, but I can picture him screaming those last two lines at the phone!

http://www.123rf.com/photo_2190057_wi...

Or checking fruitlessly for messages:

http://www.123rf.com/photo_2191517_wi...


message 42: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2557 comments Mod
"People don't often sit by phones anymore, but I can picture him screaming those last two lines at the phone!"

I know many a woman who sits by her phone...and her computer for internet dating!!!

Even all that we can say about gender roles or battle of the sexes....dating sites are keeping people locked to their internet devices...even if they might be walking with them instead of sitting near them Ha ha ha!


message 43: by Pippa (new)

Pippa (pippa222) | 4 comments I wrote the Dark Lady's response to Shakespeare because - although I love him above all others, I suspect that what is going on here is jealousy. See my blog at stargleamblog.wordpress.com for her prosodically correct retort! You may have to scroll down a few posts but I'm writing on my phone and don't have the link. Sorry!


message 44: by Martin (new)

Martin | 16 comments Here's the actual link,

https://stargleamblog.wordpress.com/2...

Thank you Pippa, I really enjoyed your blog entry.


message 45: by JimF (new)

JimF | 188 comments Message 16: it could be that Shakespeare left it deliberately obscure (except, perhaps, to an inside crowd).

Obscure is needed for venereal disease, except an inside crowd.

Theme of sonnet 119 is syphilis. The same may apply to others, like sonnet 147. A quick look of related words: love, fever, disease, ill, physician, prescriptions, death, Physic did except (line 8), pass cure, frantic mad, black as hell (line 14).

"Physic did except" can be the medicine (Siren tears) to except syphilis; "black as hell" means the same as "foul as hell" in sonnet 119.

Sonnet 147

MY loue is as a feauer longing still, [01]
For that which longer nurseth the disease,
Feeding on that which doth preserue the ill,
Th' vncertaine sicklie appetite to please:

My reason the Phisition to my loue, [05]
Angry that his prescriptions are not kept
Hath left me, and I desperate now approoue,
Desire is death, which Phisick did except.

Past cure I am, now Reason is past care, [09]
And frantick madde with euer-more vnrest,
My thoughts and my discourse as mad mens are,
At randon from the truth vainely exprest.

For I haue sworne thee faire, and thought thee bright, [13]
Who art as black as hell, as darke as night.


message 46: by DavidE (new)

DavidE (shaxton) | 358 comments Thanks for the interesting read, Jim. I agree that syphilis could be the trigger for the sonnet, but I don't know that I think it must be. Yes, Shakespeare may have wanted to obscure any references to the vile disease (for a variety of reasons), but he may also have wanted to leave the sonnet vague enough so that the reader need not restrict its meaning to a specific medical condition.

Or, to put the matter more generally, perhaps Shakespeare wanted to avoid the specific in favor of the general, to opt for Disease Most Foul instead of (what we insist on today) 'a sexually transmitted disease.' After all, the sonnet is not so much about a medical condition as it is a testament to one man's despair in matters of the . . . heart.


message 47: by JimF (new)

JimF | 188 comments DavidE: Thanks for the interesting read ...

Thanks too. Maybe Shakespeare just wanted to leave sonnets vague enough, or they are some tests for entering a new world. If Shakespeare really wanted us to find the truth, he must leave enough clues. Sonnet 145 and 146 also talk about venereal disease. I set it to syphilis for it can give the best explanation.

Shakespeare often sealed things under ambiguity or errors, e.g. the Clock in Julius Caesar, like Machiavelli's deception.

"Am I a Machiavel?"—The Merry Wives of Windsor


message 48: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) An amateur poet might write such a poem about syphilis, straight forward language without metaphor or poetic design, but S was a poet who vented his anguish, confusion, guilt, rhapsody, and tenderness in poetic lyric metaphor.

Only reason could cure this disease of Love, and his reason has left him. My thoughts and my discourse as madmen's are,... Why is it a disease? Why isn't he rejoicing in this love? Because he has fallen for someone not worthy, who has probably betrayed him, and yet he loves still (or perhaps obsesses).
For I have sworn thee fair and thought thee bright,
Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.



message 49: by JimF (new)

JimF | 188 comments Janice: An amateur poet might write such a poem about syphilis, straight forward language without metaphor or poetic design, ...

Many explanations exist for this sonnet. Your can fit, mine too. Amateur or not isn't something I can judge. I try to find the best of an author, ignore others. Besides, how can we be sure there is no intelligence within plainness? We might ignore them just like we can't figure out Siren tears.

A poet may mix metaphor and straight forward language. What I do is to find the best explanation; e.g. sonnet 128's description of virginal is wrong, but it fits well the metaphor of actor-audience interaction, and means more for a poet.

For me, the key of Shake-speares Sonnets is connection, including A Lover's Complaint. One may feel comfortable in single sonnet, but bore after more, not to mention the total 154.

Sonnet 119 and 147 (and more) are connected by syphilis. Sonnet 7, 15, 53, 66, 69, 128, 129 are by stage play. Eventually, all 154 can be connected, logically.

Message 21: Don't worry about breaking "Martin's rules" ...


message 50: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) JimF wrote: "Janice: An amateur poet might write such a poem about syphilis, straight forward language without metaphor or poetic design, ...

Many explanations exist for this sonnet. Your can fit, mine too. Am..."


We'll have to agree to disagree on this one ; )


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