Lucy asked in Arts & HumanitiesPoetry · 10 years ago

What is Shakespeare talking about in this sonnet?

It's sonnet #42:

That thou hast her it is not all my grief,

And yet it may be said I loved 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,

Suff'ring 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.

When he says "That she hath thee is of my wailing chief", what is he talking about?

4 Answers

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  • 10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Sounds like a love triangle

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  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    "That she hath thee is of my wailing chief" is "What makes me cry the most is that now she has you" (chief means most important, and wailing means crying)

    The fact that you now have my mistress isn’t the only reason I’m hurt,

    though it’s true that I loved her dearly.

    What makes me cry the most is that now she has you,

    a loss of love that hurts me even more.

    You two criminals in love, here’s how I’ll rationalize the pain you’ve caused me:

    You, friend, love her because you know I love her.

    And she loves you for the exact same reason,

    putting up with your praises and lovemaking for my sake, because she knows you’re my friend.

    If I lose you, it’s a win for my mistress.

    And if I lose her, you will have found what I’ve lost.

    Both of the people I love find each other, and I lose them both,

    and both cause me this pain.

    But here’s what makes me happy: My friend and I are one person.

    How gratifying!—It turns out my mistress loves only me.

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  • ?
    Lv 6
    10 years ago

    The entire sonnet is a paradox. He's pissed off because his girl loves someone else and the chief reason for his wailing is because he does not have her. However, he wins in both directions because he feels that his love for her is stroger than that of the person who does have her, as such even if he does not possess the woman he feels stronger; and if he does eventually win her he will be even stronger, figure gtfhe rest out yourself lol!¬

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  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    line by line commentary

    1. 'The fact that you now possess her is not the sole cause of my grief'. to have, in the context of a loving relationship, refers both to the oneness of love, as in line 11 and in

    My true love hath my heart and I have his, (Sidney),

    as well as to the physical act of coition, as in Sonn 129:

    Had, having, and in quest, to have extreme.

    Similarly in line 3. The tone of the poem usually indicates which, if any, meaning should predominate. Here there is a constant interchange between the two meanings, as the tide of jealousy and forgiveness ebbs and flows in the poet's mind.

    2. The poet does not wish to belittle his loss. Though the main cause of his sorrow is not the loss of his mistress, as explained in the following lines, it is still not an insignificant or petty sorrow, but it is outweighed by other considerations.

    dearly = with heartfelt affection; at a cost.

    3. is of my wailing chief = is the main cause of my grief. Perhaps, as SB suggests, a reference to the chief mourner at a funeral.

    wailing = sorrow.

    4. A loss in love - loss and love are the two key words of this poem. loss and its cognates occur six times, the same number as for love and its cognates. The two are thus evenly balanced, as if one brings the other in its train.

    nearly = grievously, deeply, close to my heart. 5. Loving offenders = sinful lovers; loving sinners. The phrase encapsulates the psychological difficulty of maintaining a relationship with the two participants. The word offenders is used in Sonn 34

    The offender's sorrow lends but weak relief

    To him that bears the strong offence's cross

    and this echoes line 12 of this sonnet. How can one forgive the loving offenders who have committed this strong offence? (Although cross in Sonn 34 is an emendation for loss). At the same time in the phrase loving offenders there is probably a suggestion of the proverbial good will which lovers enjoy. 'All the world loves a lover', 'They are offenders, but they are in love', etc.

    6. These two lines (6.7) set out the reason for excusing the betrayal. Briefly it is that both of them did it out of love for him.

    7.even so = in like manner, i.e. because she knows I love you, and therefore by loving you she loves me;

    abuse = deceive, maltreat, harm.

    8. Suffering = allowing, permitting; but with overtones which speak of the poet's own experience of suffering caused by this liaison.

    to approve her = to try her out (sexually); to give her his blessing.

    9. 9-12 expand the thought put forward in 6-8.

    10. And losing her = and in my losing of her.

    my friend = my beloved (the young man).

    11. both twain = the two together; the two individually. See the use of twain in Sonns. 36 and 39.

    12. this cross = this sorrow, this anguish. The imagery is the familiar Christian one of the crucifixion, with the speaker adopting a Christ-like pose of suffering and forbearance. It could also suggest the episode of Simon of Cyrene being forced to carry the cross on the path up to Calvary, a cross which, according to tradition, he at first refused to take up.

    13. The final link is placed in the chain of reasoning. Far from being a sorrow, the liaison between the poet's mistress and the beloved youth has become a source of joy.

    my friend = my beloved.

    one - the unity of lovers is once again stressed. It is a frequent theme in the sonnets. See 36, 39, 40.

    5. Loving offenders = sinful lovers; loving sinners. The phrase encapsulates the psychological difficulty of maintaining a relationship with the two participants. The word offenders is used in Sonn 34

    The offender's sorrow lends but weak relief

    To him that bears the strong offence's cross

    and this echoes line 12 of this sonnet. How can one forgive the loving offenders who have committed this strong offence? (Although cross in Sonn 34 is an emendation for loss). At the same time in the phrase loving offenders there is probably a suggestion of the proverbial good will which lovers enjoy. 'All the world loves a lover', 'They are offenders, but they are in love', etc.

    6. Thou dost love her, because thou know'st I love her; 6. These two lines (6.7) set out the reason for excusing the betrayal. Briefly it is that both of them did it out of love for him.

    7. And for my sake even so doth she abuse me, 7.even so = in like manner, i.e. because she knows I love you, and therefore by loving you she loves me;

    abuse = deceive, maltreat, harm.

    8. Suffering my friend for my sake to approve her. 8. Suffering = allowing, permitting; but with overtones which speak of the poet's own experience of suffering caused by this liaison.

    to approve her = to try her out (sexually); to give her his blessing.

    9. If I lose thee, my loss is my love's gain, 9. 9-12 expand the thought put forward in 6-8.10. And losing her, my friend hath found that loss; 10. And losing her = and in my losing of her.

    my friend = my beloved (the young man).

    11. both twain = the two together; the two individually.

    12. this cross = this sorrow, this anguish. The imagery is the familiar Christian one of the crucifixion

    13. The final link is placed in the chain of reasoning. Far from being a sorrow, the liaison between the poet's mistress and the beloved youth has become a source of joy.

    my friend = my beloved.

    one - the unity of lovers is once again stressed. It is a frequent theme in the sonnets.

    This is the last in the trilogy of sonnets devoted to the youth's betrayal of the poet by stealing his mistress. It was traditional that the sonneteer should find excuses for the beloved's behaviour. Her purity (for it was usually a woman) and innaccesibility were part of a higher ideal and she could not bend herself to earthly love. The poet therefore had to justify her aloofness and her cold chastity.

    Here the poet has to justify infidelity, a far more difficult task, and set against the background that the beloved should be irreproachable, the traditions of sonnet writing are wittily parodied.

    Nevertheless there lingers a bitter aftertaste, for despite all the sophistry of excuse and justification, the poet is left to mull over his loss, and the joy and sweet flattery which he claims to find in the concluding couplet ring hollow. They sound very much like gratuitous and foolish self deception. The beloved has everything and his lover, the poet, must content himself with the shadow of a love, a love who has betrayed him and found joy and consolation in the arms of another.

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