ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Shakespeare Sonnet 40

Updated on May 4, 2020
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

Poetry became my passion, after I fell in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English class, circa 1962.

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

Source

Introduction and Text of Sonnet 40

In Shakespeare sonnet 40, the speaker becomes ultra crafty, cleverly playing on the word, "love," as he again feigns an imaginary distance from his creations. This speaker loves his poems and his ability to craft them more than life itself. He has proven that love and his appreciation for his ability to write poetry in nearly every sonnet up to this point.

And, spoiler alert! he will continue to demonstrate his love and loyalty to his writing vocation, even beyond this current sequence (The Writer/Muse Sonnets 18-126) that focuses directly on that topic.

Sonnet 40

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 blam’d, if thou thyself deceivest
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.

Reading of Sonnet 40

Commentary

Sonnet 40 continues the hiatus from unity taken by the speaker that he declared in Sonnet 39, but instead of praising the poem, he appears to be chiding it.

First Quatrain: Art Can Take All

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.

The speaker begins by commanding "[his] love" to go ahead and relieve him of all that he loves. His poetry takes much energy, time, and dedication, so he affirms that he is giving in and letting his art take all that he is, all that he loves. Of course, this speaker's greatest love is the art itself, as he has affirmed repeatedly. But now the speaker remonstrates that even if his art succeeds in taking all of the speaker’s loves, it will not have more than it already has. This claim stands perfectly in line with the fact that his poetry already has all of his love.

The speaker plays on the word "love," repeating it over and over with slightly different meanings: "No love, my love, that thou mayst true love call." The first love refers to the ordinary abstract referent, while the second directly addresses his art, and the third refers back similarly to the first abstract referent, except instead of mere "love," the speaker emphasizes it by calling it "true love."

Second Quatrain: Playing on Love

Then, if for my love thou my love receivest,
I cannot blame thee for my love thou usest;
But yet be blam’d, if thou thyself deceivest
By wilful taste of what thyself refusest.

In the second quatrain, the speaker continues playing on the word "love" as he addresses his poem. He muses that even if his work takes all of his love, because of his love, the poem will assuredly be blamed if it deceives itself by taking his loves when the speaker will need his loves to enrich the poem.

The poem can deplete itself only by depleting the speaker. The speaker whimsically personifies his art in order to chide it for usurping all of the speaker’s energy, time, and, of course, "love."

Third Quatrain: Robbed of Poverty

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.

The personification continues as the poem becomes a "gentle thief," who has robbed the speaker of his "poverty." However, unlike a real robber who robs wealth, this "gentle thief" robs poverty from the speaker.

Paradoxically, the speaker asserts, "love knows it is a greater grief / To bear love’s wrong than hate’s known injury." This paradox plays out in time simply on top of the theft of poverty that provides the speaker with the entanglement that only his feigned lost love can possibly rectify.

The Couplet: The Nature of Affection

Lascivious grace, in whom all ill well shows,
Kill me with spites; yet we must not be foes.

By averring that "[l]ascivious grace" would be responsible for "kill[ing]" the speaker "with spites," the speaker repudiates the nature of affection that could divide the speaker from his art perpetually. The crafty speaker then seals the unification to which he has returned by demanding, "we must not be foes." This demand is, of course, greatly understated.

Source

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford: The Real "Shakespeare"

© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes

Comments

Submit a Comment
  • Maya Shedd Temple profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Sue Grimes 

    3 years ago from U.S.A.

    Mark, one of the fascinating qualities of the Shakespearean persona is his ability to originate tension in each drama. In this sequence 18-126, the speaker is contemplating his talent, his skillful control over his art.

    In sonnets 39-42, the speaker is dramatizing a fancied division or separation between himself and his poem. He is creating this distance so that he can acknowledge the value of his creation without slipping into an ugly solipsism.

    That he chooses to call his talent "his love" may at first seem confusing because adversarial, but it becomes apparent as the sequence progresses that the speaker does, in fact, love his own talent and thus his own creations above all else in his life.

  • Mark Tulin profile image

    Mark Tulin 

    3 years ago from Santa Barbara, California

    The writer's obsession with his art doesn't feel like love at all. It feels adversarial and he seems to be stuck in the middle of it all.

  • Maya Shedd Temple profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Sue Grimes 

    3 years ago from U.S.A.

    Because I can discern no person in any sonnet in this sequence, I suggest that the group of sonnets (8 to 126) has been widely mischaracterized. It has been titled the "Fair Youth" sonnets and thought to be speaking to a young man. However there is no person, no young man, in this group of sonnets.

    In this sequence, the speaker engages three ostensibly differing addressees: his muse, his writing talent, and even the poems themselves. As might be expected, the speaker even muses on writer's block in some of the sonnets.

    Sonnets 40-42 specifically engage the notion of unity between artist and art, or poet and poem.

    Thank you for offering your interesting suggestion, Glenis.

  • Glenis Rix profile image

    GlenR 

    3 years ago from UK

    This is an interesting interpretation.

    The Norton Shakespeare suggests that 40-42 describe a love triangle. In light of this, I wonder if perhaps the writer is referring to the taking of his sonnets and of his lover by his patron?

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)