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In faith, I do not love thee with mine eyes, In truth, I do not love you with my eyes,
For they in thee a thousand errors note; For they note a thousand faults in you;
But 'tis my heart that loves what they despise, But it is my heart that loves what my eyes dislike,
Who in despite of view is pleased to dote; Which, despite what it sees, continues to dote over you;
Nor are mine ears with thy tongue's tune delighted, Nor our mine ears delighted by the sound of your voice,
Nor tender feeling, to base touches prone, Nor will my sense of feeling respond to just anyone's touch,
Nor taste, nor smell, desire to be invited Nor do my senses of taste or smell desire to be invited
To any sensual feast with thee alone: To any sensual feast with you and you alone.
But my five wits nor my five senses can But my five wits nor my five senses can
Dissuade one foolish heart from serving thee, Persuade my foolish heart not to serve you,
Who leaves unsway'd the likeness of a man, Who leaves only the likeness of a man
Thy proud hearts slave and vassal wretch to be: To be your proud heart's slave and vassal.
Only my plague thus far I count my gain, Only in this do I consider my love-sickness to my advantage,
That she that makes me sin awards me pain. She that makes me sin determines my punishment.

sensual feast (8): a feast of the senses.

alone (8): in private.

five wits (9): here means the poet's intellect, including wit and memory. (11): As T.G. Tucker points out in his edition of the Sonnets, "leaves unswayed' means "not = so that I become the slave, etc., but = abandons the (mere) semblance of a man and so leaves it without its natural controller, in order (itself) to become your proud heart's slave. It is his heart that becomes the vassal of hers, while he becomes the mere 'likeness of a man'" (The Sonnets of Shakespeare, 221).

Here, as in so many of the Sonnets, we see that the poet's relationship with the dark lady is based on sensual pleasure and infatuation, rather than deep understanding and intellectual stimulation. Those more lofty needs are met through the relationship he has with his male lover, likely the Earl of Southampton. The poet again stresses that his mistress is anything but beautiful, and thus the joy he receives from her cannot be aesthetic. This leads to an important question: what about his mistress does the poet find so appealing? It appears that even the poet himself does not have an adequate answer. She clearly gratifies him, but that gratification ultimately does not make him happy. And he delights in her 'punishment' only out of some deep perversion of his own feelings and judgment. In the final analysis, his relationship with the dark lady is troubling and symbolic of the poet's own lack of self-worth.

For more on the sonnets, please see the general introduction to Shakespeare's sonnets.


Holden, Anthony. William Shakespeare: His Life and Work. Boston: Little, Brown, 2002.
Lee, Sidney, Sir. A Life of Shakespeare. New York: Macmillan, 1916.
Shakespeare, William. The Sonnets. Ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Cambridge: UP, 1996.
Shakespeare, William. Shakespeare's Sonnets. Ed. Tucker Brooke. London: Oxford UP: 1936.
Shakespeare, William. The Works of Shakespeare. Ed. John Dover Wilson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1969.
Smith, Hallett. The Tension of the Lyre. San Marino: Huntington Library, 1981.
Spender, Stephen. The Riddle of Shakespeare's Sonnets. New York: Basic Books, 1962.
Tucker, T.G. The Sonnets of Shakespeare. Cambridge: UP, 1924.
Wright, George Thaddeus. Shakespeare's Metrical Art. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.

How to Cite this Article

Mabillard, Amanda. An Analysis of Shakespeare's Sonnet 141. Shakespeare Online. 2000. (day/month/year you accessed the information) < >.


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