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Shakespeare Sonnet 134

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

Edward de Vere Studies

Edward de Vere Studies

Introduction and Text of Sonnet 134

In sonnet 134, the speaker again is addressing the dark lady, as he laments her power over his other self. However, this "other self" is not the spiritual persona, not the muse, but very bluntly yet subtly and specifically, he is referring to his male member as "he." It is quite a common vulgar traditional part of coarse conversation, and both male and females engage in it, often even assigning nicknames to their private parts.

Sonnet 134: So, now I have confess’d that he is thine

So, now I have confess’d that he is thine
And I myself am mortgag’d to thy will,
Myself I’ll forfeit, so that other mine
Thou wilt restore, to be my comfort still:
But thou wilt not, nor he will not be free,
For thou art covetous and he is kind;
He learn’d but surety-like to write for me,
Under that bond that him as fast doth bind.
The statute of thy beauty thou wilt take,
Thou usurer, that putt’st forth all to use,
And sue a friend came debtor for my sake;
So him I lose through my unkind abuse.
Him have I lost; thou hast both him and me:
He pays the whole, and yet am I not free.

Reading of Sonnet 134

Commentary

The speaker in sonnet 134 descends into a vulgar discussion, lamenting the sexual attraction he suffers because of the lustful lady.

First Quatrain: Lower Nature

So, now I have confess’d that he is thine
And I myself am mortgag’d to thy will,
Myself I ’ll forfeit, so that other mine
Thou wilt restore, to be my comfort still:

The speaker complained in sonnet 133 that the lady was imprisoning not only the speaker but also alter ego, his soul-Muse-Talent. The speaker’s identity is so closely bound with his writing that even he at times finds distinguishing them unappealing.

The diction of sonnet 134 however cleverly demonstrates that the speaker is referring to his lower nature or his sex drive; thus, the "he" referred to here is his male organ. He tells the lady that he has "confess’d that he is thine." But because the speaker cannot separate himself from this particular "he," the speaker is also "mortgag’d to [the lady’s] will."

The speaker’s sexual arousal causes his entire being to respond and bind itself to the lady. The use of financial terms such as "mortgage" and "forfeit" imply and confirm that the speaker is complaining about physical acts instead of spiritual ones.

The speaker says he will "forfeit" himself, his sensual self, so that he will have "restore[d]" to him his other self and his comfort. He implies that giving in to the woman sexually will dilute the urge and he can become calm again.

Second Quatrain: Physical Pleasure

But thou wilt not, nor he will not be free,
For thou art covetous and he is kind;
He learn’d but surety-like to write for me,
Under that bond that him as fast doth bind.

But then the speaker admits that engaging in physical pleasure with her will not free him from her clutches, because she is "covetous." He knows he will give in to her again. His male member has "learn’d but surety-like to write for me, / Under that bond that him as fast doth bind." That male organ "write[s]" for or creates in the speaker the motivation that will urge them both to cling to the woman.

Third Quatrain: The Diction of Desire

The statute of thy beauty thou wilt take,
Thou usurer, that putt’st forth all to use,
And sue a friend came debtor for my sake;
So him I lose through my unkind abuse.

The lady will continue to flaunt her beauty to keep the speaker and his male member desirous of her. Again the speaker employs diction that indicates the material, worldly nature of his discourse: "the statute" of her beauty, "thou usurer," "sue a friend came debtor"—all employ legal and/or financial terms that clearly join the speaker’s conversation to worldly endeavors.

The speaker then admits that he lost control over his base urges "through [his] unkind abuse," that is, he allowed his attention to fall below the waist. He allowed his attraction for the woman’s beauty to stir in him the desire to satisfy the drives that are meant for a sacred purpose, not mere entertainment.

The Couplet:

Him have I lost; thou hast both him and me:
He pays the whole, and yet am I not free.

The speaker then laments that, "Him have I lost," meaning that he has lost control over his male organ. He tells the woman that she possesses both him and his copulatory organ, and while the latter "pays the whole," punning on "hole," he is certainly not free but is right there with that body part.

The De Vere Society

Dedicated to the proposition that the works of Shakespeare were written by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

Dedicated to the proposition that the works of Shakespeare were written by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

© 2018 Linda Sue Grimes

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