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Shakespeare Sonnet 133

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

The De Vere Society is dedicated to the proposition that the works of Shakespeare were written by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

The De Vere Society is dedicated to the proposition that the works of Shakespeare were written by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

Introduction and Text of Sonnet 133

(Note: For a brief introduction to this 154-sonnet sequence, please visit "Overview of the Shakespeare Sonnet Sequence.")

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
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

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.

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.

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

Shakespeare Authorship / Crackpot to Mainstream

© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes

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