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Shakespeare Sonnets 133: "Beshrew that heart that makes my heart to groan" and 93: "So shall I live, supposing thou art

The Shakespeare sonnets play an essential rôle in my poetry world. Those 154 classic sonnets masterfully dramatize truth, beauty, and love.

Introduction and Text of Sonnet 133: "Beshrew that heart that makes my heart to groan"

As the reader has experienced from sonnets 18 through 126, the speaker in sonnet 133 creates a persona of his soul in order to reflect upon and dramatize the activity of his talent and ambition.

In that section of the sonnets, the speaker variously addresses his muse, his poems, or himself—all of whom are the same entity, the only difference being the differing aspects of the same soul. In sonnet 133, the speaker refers to his Muse-Talent-Soul as his friend, who is being affected by the dark lady’s behavior.

Sonnet 133: "Beshrew that heart that makes my heart to groan"

Beshrew that heart that makes my heart to groan
For that deep wound it gives my friend and me!
Is ’t not enough to torture me alone,
But slave to slavery my sweet’st friend must be?
Me from myself thy cruel eye hath taken,
And my next self thou harder hast engross’d:
Of him, myself, and thee, I am forsaken;
A torment thrice threefold thus to be cross’d.
Prison my heart in thy steel bosom’s ward,
But then my friend’s heart let my poor heart bail;
Whoe’er keeps me, let my heart be his guard;
Thou canst not then use rigour in my jail:
And yet thou wilt; for I, being pent in thee,
Perforce am thine, and all that is in me.

Reading of Sonnet 133

Commentary on Sonnet 133: "Beshrew that heart that makes my heart to groan"

The speaker is bemoaning the fact that the cruel lady has not only captured his heart but also his alter ego, that is, his other self who creates his poems.

First Quatrain: Dark Lady vs the Muse

Beshrew that heart that makes my heart to groan
For that deep wound it gives my friend and me!
Is ’t not enough to torture me alone,
But slave to slavery my sweet’st friend must be?

The speaker brings down a curse on “that heart” of the dark lady, not only for making his heart “to groan,” but also for the “deep wound” she causes in both his “friend” and himself. He queries, isn’t it enough that you torment me? must you also cause my muse, who is “my sweet’st friend” to suffer?

The speaker is probably finding his musings invaded with thoughts of the mistress, and because of his intense infatuation with her, he feels his creations are suffering.

The complaint resembles the one wherein he would chide his muse for abandoning him, implying that he could not write without her, yet he continued to make poems about that very topic.

Second Quatrain: Triumvirate of Soul

Me from myself thy cruel eye hath taken,
And my next self thou harder hast engross’d:
Of him, myself, and thee, I am forsaken;
A torment thrice threefold thus to be cross’d.

The speaker then refers explicitly to the cruelty of the lady for affecting his muse/writing; he claims that she has taken him from himself, and also “my next self thou harder has engross’d.” The self that is closest to him is that triumvirate of Muse-Talent-Soul, which constitutes his life, including his working life.

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When the lady disrupts the speaker’s tripartite entity, she causes him to be “forsaken” by everything and everyone: “Of him, myself, and thee, I am forsaken.” And he thus is “torment[ed] thrice threefold.”

Third Quatrain: Begging to Keep His own Muse

Prison my heart in thy steel bosom’s ward,
But then my friend’s heart let my poor heart bail;
Whoe’er keeps me, let my heart be his guard;
Thou canst not then use rigour in my jail:

In the third quatrain, the speaker commands the lady to go ahead and lock him up in “[her] steel bosom’s ward,” but let him be able to extricate his muse from her clutches. He wants to retain control over whatever his own heart “guard[s].” He wants to keep his muse in his own “jail” so that she cannot “use rigour” in that jail.

The Couplet: Confined and Under a Spell

And yet thou wilt; for I, being pent in thee,
Perforce am thine, and all that is in me.

But the speaker contends that the lady will continue to imprison him, and because he deems that he belongs to her, all “that is in me,” including that triumvirate of Muse-Talent-Soul, also is confined in her jail and under her spell.

Introduction and Text of Sonnet 93: "So shall I live, supposing thou art true"

Addressing his muse, the speaker professes that his art will continue to be infused with the permanent beauty and spiritual strength that the heavenly muse provides.

Once again, this alert speaker finds a way to elevate his muse while at the same time, he is chiding her for not letting him know certain unknowable future movements.

The speaker remains certain that his muse is a spiritual being, to whom he will always remain dependent for artistic inspiration. But he does not elevate her station to the point of mere praise and flattery.

It must be remembered that this sonneteer remains totally devoted to truth as he dramatizes beauty, but he also remains dedicated to accuracy, knowing that not all things on this earth can be deemed beautiful.

This speaker has demonstrated many times that he can complain at the same time he praises, and his muse can remain a target at the same time she remains a praiseworthy inspiration.

Sonnet 93: "So shall I live, supposing thou art true"

So shall I live, supposing thou art true
Like a deceived husband; so love’s face
May still seem love to me, though alter’d new;
Thy looks with me, thy heart in other place:
For there can live no hatred in thine eye,
Therefore in that I cannot know thy change.
In many’s looks, the false heart’s history
Is writ in moods, and frowns, and wrinkles strange,
But heaven in thy creation did decree
That in thy face sweet love should ever dwell;
Whate’er thy thoughts or thy heart’s workings be,
Thy looks should nothing thence but sweetness tell.
How like Eve’s apple doth thy beauty grow,
If thy sweet virtue answer not thy show!

Reading of Sonnet 93: So shall I live, supposing thou art true"

Commentary on Sonnet 93: "So shall I live, supposing thou art true"

Addressing his muse, the speaker professes that his art will continue to be infused with the permanent beauty and spiritual strength that the heavenly muse provides.

First Quatrain: Addressing the Muse

So shall I live, supposing thou art true
Like a deceived husband; so love’s face
May still seem love to me, though alter’d new;
Thy looks with me, thy heart in other place:

In the first quatrain of sonnet 93, the speaker addresses his muse, alerting her that he will henceforth pretend that he believes she will not forsake him. The speaker still chides her, insisting that he knows he will be like a deceived husband, but he nevertheless continues with his diversion.

This clever speaker will continue to believe that his muse is true to him as he looks into her face of inspiration. Even when her endowment of motivation is alter’d new, that is changed, it is still better than dismissing her altogether.

The speaker will continue to retain her vision, even if her heart is in other place. The speaker knows that he is really the one who supplies the emotion, or heart, and the muse is only an aid, and sometimes a crutch, for acquiring a way of seeing.

Second Quatrain: Knowing No Hatred

For there can live no hatred in thine eye,
Therefore in that I cannot know thy change.
In many’s looks, the false heart’s history
Is writ in moods, and frowns, and wrinkles strange,

The speaker then avers that he can find no reason to reprimand the muse, who knows no hatred. With human beings, the speaker can read changes of mood in their physical face with its frowns, and wrinkles.

The human will display moods easily read by those who take note, but the muse, being ethereal, can steal away as surreptitiously as she steals in.

While the speaker insists that he loves that quality of the muse, nevertheless, it sometimes perturbs him. After all, the speaker is still only human, even though his ambitions continuously run after so much that remains seemingly out of reach.

Third Quatrain: Optimistic Conviction

But heaven in thy creation did decree
That in thy face sweet love should ever dwell;
Whate’er thy thoughts or thy heart’s workings be,
Thy looks should nothing thence but sweetness tell.

But the speaker returns to his optimistic conviction that in the true face of his muse sweet love should ever dwell. This loving speaker knows that his own grumpiness is all he sees when he projects his foul moods upon his lovely muse.

The muse is a reflection of heaven, and when the Divine created the muse, He placed perfection within the reach of the artist, who makes the effort to court her in earnest.

Regardless of the many projections the artist might cast out from his own tainted mood, the muse will remain constant. The artist must simply learn to discern his own failures to distinguish them from the inspirations of the muse.

The Couplet: Inspiration and Guidance

How like Eve’s apple doth thy beauty grow,
If thy sweet virtue answer not thy show!

If the muse’s beauty were an evanescent, rotting reality such as Eve’s apple, no artist could ever rely upon her for inspiration and guidance. This speaker, however, avows that sweet virtue belongs only to the spiritual union that the muse brings to the practicing artist, who sets his principles and goals on a lofty pedestal.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes

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