Sonnets 141-154

Sonetti 141-154
Lady Lilith

Shakespeare’s Sonnets are some of the most fascinating and influential poems written in English. First published in 1609, in a small quarto edition (roughly the size of a modern paperback), almost nothing is known about the poems’ composition. But the Sonnets have been read, recited, reprinted and written about ever since their first appearance.

»»» Sonnets introduction
»»» Sonnets complete list

Sonnets 141-154

Sonnets 141-154
  • Sonnet 141
    Sonnet 141

    «In faith, I do not love thee with mine eyes, For they in thee a thousand errors note».   In Sonnet 141, the poet discusses how his senses warn him of the woman’s disreputable character, yet his heart, a symbol of his emotions, remains affectionately attached…

  • Sonnet 142
    Sonnet 142

    «Love is my sin and thy dear virtue hate, Hate of my sin, grounded on sinful lovinge».   Delving into the awareness of sin, Sonnet 142 sums up the poet’s whole fatuous and insatiable passion. He supports the woman’s rejection of his love because he deems…

  • Sonnet 143
    Sonnet 143

    «Lo! as a careful housewife runs to catch One of her feather’d creatures broke away».   The image of an errant mistress chasing chickens while neglecting her infant suggests a love triangle between the woman, the young man, and the poet. Sonnet 143 Read and listen…

  • Sonnet 144
    Sonnet 144

    «Two loves I have of comfort and despair, Which like two spirits do suggest me still».   Sonnet 144 is the only sonnet that explicitly refers to both the Dark Lady and the young man, the poet’s “Two loves.” Atypically, the poet removes himself from the…

  • Sonnet 145
    Sonnet 145

    «Those lips that Love’s own hand did make Breathed forth the sound that said ‘I hate’».   As the sequel to the previous sonnet, Sonnet 145 is a trivial treatment of love. The mistress grants pity on the poet in contrast to previous sonnets, in which…

  • Sonnet 146
    Sonnet 146

    «Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth, [Thrall to] these rebel powers that thee array».   The poet now somberly ponders why his soul, as “Lord” of his body, spends so much of its time seeking earthly desires when it should be most concerned about…

  • Sonnet 147
    Sonnet 147

    «My love is as a fever, longing still For that which longer nurseth the disease».   The final sonnets concerning the mistress, beginning with this one, return the poet to the disturbed state of previous sonnets. Sonnet 147 Read and listen My love is as a…

  • Sonnet 148
    Sonnet 148

    «O me, what eyes hath Love put in my head, Which have no correspondence with true sight!».   In Sonnet 148, a companion to the previous sonnet, the poet admits that his judgment is blind when it comes to love. Again his eyes are false and…

  • Sonnet 149
    Sonnet 149

    «Canst thou, O cruel! say I love thee not, When I against myself with thee partake?».   Sonnet 149 recalls the poet’s abject defense of the youth’s insulting behavior. The main theme, however, is the conflict between reason and infatuation. Sonnet 149 Read and listen Canst…

  • Sonnet 150
    Sonnet 150

    «O, from what power hast thou this powerful might With insufficiency my heart to sway?».   Using a more rational tone than in the previous sonnet, the poet tries to understand why he cannot completely break from the woman. He shifts his approach, asking what incredible…

  • Sonnet 151
    Sonnet 151

    «Love is too young to know what conscience is; Yet who knows not conscience is born of love?».   If the poet ever hoped that his soul would win out over his body, as he does in Sonnet 146, and that his reason would return to…

  • Sonnet 152
    Sonnet 152

    «In loving thee thou know’st I am forsworn, But thou art twice forsworn, to me love swearing».   The end of the relationship between the poet and the woman becomes apparent. Addressing the woman with a sense of shame and outrage, the poet is fully conscious…

  • Sonnet 153
    Sonnet 153

    «Cupid laid by his brand, and fell asleep: A maid of Dian’s this advantage found».   The last two sonnets, which may be considered as appendices to the preceding sonnet story, do not touch upon any of the major themes in the sonnets. Sonnet 153 Read…

  • Sonnet 154
    Sonnet 154

    «The little Love-god lying once asleep Laid by his side his heart-inflaming brand».   Sonnet 154 tells a similar story as the one in Sonnet 153. Cupid falls asleep and a nymph steals his “heart-inflaming brand.” She quenches the brand in a cool well, but the…

»»» Sonnets introduction

They have inspired many creative works, including music and dance pieces as well as other poems. And they continue to intrigue those of us who watch, read and study Shakespeare’s plays, for the insight they might offer into the mind of the man who wrote our most beloved dramatic works. This piece will explore why the Sonnets are so important to the history of English poetry and why they continue to be enjoyed – and imitated – today.

Part of the reason Shakespeare’s Sonnets speak to us so directly is that they are written with their own afterlife in mind. These are poems designed to commemorate the poet’s beloved for all eternity. In the famous lines of Sonnet 18 Shakespeare suggests that his poem confers immortality: ‘So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, / So long lives this, and this gives life to thee’ (ll. 11.13–14). Long after his lover’s death, Shakespeare’s poem will continue to keep his lover alive. The Sonnets look to their own future, imagining the readers who will come to them hundreds of years after Shakespeare’s death. We continue to read the poems partly because of this sense of contact with Shakespeare as he reaches out into the future, a sense of presence as well as a reminder of his absence (a theme that will return later in this piece).

But we need to be careful about reading the poems autobiographically, or seeing them as a key to the themes of love, jealousy, anger and lust that pervade Shakespeare’s plays. The poetic persona who speaks through the sequence is not Shakespeare himself. While many readers of the poems have traced a love triangle between the ‘poet’ and two figures often called the ‘Young Man’ and the ‘Dark Lady’, the Sonnets themselves resist straightforward narrative. The poems seem to play with the reader in this regard, tempting us with hints of the kind of love story that underpinned other popular poetic sequences of the time, or the plot of a Shakespearean comedy. At the same time, the poems constantly frustrate our attempts to trace the exact moment at which the poet loses – or gains – the affection of his lovers, or to map the precise relationship between the two enigmatic figures that so preoccupy his attentions. It is also significant that one of the lovers is male; Shakespeare’s Sonnets do not give us a predictably heterosexual romance but rather a complex and intricate exploration of gender and sexuality that encourages ambiguity rather than resolution.


1 – 20 21 – 40 41 – 60
61 – 80 81 – 100 101 – 120
121 – 140
141 – 154

»»» Sonnets introduction
»»» Sonnets complete list