Love is too young to know what conscience is;
Yet who knows not, conscience is born of love?
Then, gentle cheater, urge not my amiss,
Lest guilty of my faults thy sweet self prove.
For thou betraying me, I do betray
My nobler part to my gross body's treason;
My soul doth tell my body that he may
Triumph in love; flesh stays no farther reason,
But rising at thy name, doth point out thee
As his triumphant prize. Proud of this pride,
He is contented thy poor drudge to be,
To stand in thy affairs, fall by thy side.
No want of conscience hold it that I call
Her 'love,' for whose dear love I rise and fall.
CLI. A consciousness of where fault lies is apt to follow after
love. There was danger, therefore, lest the poet's mistress should
be incriminated as the cause of his bringing the nobler part of his
nature under the dominion of his fleshly lusts. He asks, therefore,
that the question as to the morality of his conduct shall not be
l, 2. Love in its first impetuousness disregards moral considerations, but
reflection and remorse follow on its fruition.
5, 6. For thou betraying me, &c. The "gentle cheater" betrays or seduces the poet into sin; and so he becomes guilty of treason against the nobler part of his nature.
9. Thy name. See note on line 14.
10. Pride. Proud conquest, alluding most likely to the lady's rank.
In his triumphant prize there is probably an allusion also to the name
"Fitton," the fit one.
14. Rise and fall. Rise in the triumph of the flesh, and fall in the
subjugation and humiliation of the soul. It has been thought that some
lines in this Sonnet were expressed so that they might be taken sensu male
pudico; but whether this be so or not it is scarcely necessary to determine, though, as the lady was probably Mrs. Mary Fitton, it is not very difficult to suggest a possible play on the name in two ways. As to the
possible play on "fit" compare Cymbeline, Act iv. sc. i, "For 'tis said' a woman's fitness comes by fits.'"
How to cite this article:
Shakespeare, William. Sonnets. Ed. Thomas Tyler. London: D. Nutt, 1890. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2013. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/151.html >.
Stratford School Days: What Did Shakespeare Read?
Games in Shakespeare's England [A-L]
Games in Shakespeare's England [M-Z]
An Elizabethan Christmas
Clothing in Elizabethan England
Queen Elizabeth: Shakespeare's Patron
King James I of England: Shakespeare's Patron
The Earl of Southampton: Shakespeare's Patron
Going to a Play in Elizabethan London
Ben Jonson and the Decline of the Drama
Publishing in Elizabethan England
Religion in Shakespeare's England
Alchemy and Astrology in Shakespeare's Day
Entertainment in Elizabethan England
London's First Public Playhouse
Shakespeare Hits the Big Time
More to Explore
How to Analyze a Shakespearean Sonnet
The Rules of Shakespearean Sonnets
Shakespeare's Sonnets: Q & A
Are Shakespeare's Sonnets Autobiographical?
Petrarch's Influence on Shakespeare
Themes in Shakespeare's Sonnets
Shakespeare's Greatest Love Poem
Shakespeare and the Earl of Southampton
The Order of the Sonnets
The Date of the Sonnets
Who was Mr. W. H.?
Are all the Sonnets addressed to two Persons?
Who was The Rival Poet?
Thoughts on sonnet order ... For the comprehension of the story of the
Sonnets, it is best, I believe, to regard them as consisting of eight papers of Sonnets, really
connected, but written at intervals over a series of years (from 1596 or 1597 to about 1603 is
the most feasible range), these papers not indicated by breaks at the proper points when
they were printed, but, with that omission, arranged there exactly in their right order,
save that the last twenty-six (Sonnets 127-152) ought to be intercalated bodily between Sonnets
32 and 33. (David Masson. Shakespeare Personally. London: Smith, Elder & Co.)
Shakespeare on Jealousy
Shakespeare on Lawyers
Shakespeare on Lust
Shakespeare on Marriage
Blank Verse and Diction in Shakespeare's Hamlet
Analysis of the Characters in Hamlet
Shakespeare on the Seasons
Shakespeare on Sleep