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Shakespeare Sonnet 148

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

Introduction and Text of Sonnet 148

In Sonnet 148, the speaker is again speculating about the disparity between his "eyes" and his brain. He avers that his "judgment" has abandoned him because his eyes continue to deceive him: he sees beauty that allures him, but beneath the skin of that beauty lie "foul faults."

Sonnet 148

O me! what eyes hath Love put in my head
Which have no correspondence with true sight;
Or, if they have, where is my judgment fled,
That censures falsely what they see aright?
If that be fair whereon my false eyes dote,
What means the world to say it is not so?
If it be not, then love doth well denote
Love’s eye is not so true as all men’s: no.
How can it? O! how can Love’s eye be true,
That is so vex’d with watching and with tears?
No marvel then, though I mistake my view;
The sun itself sees not till heaven clears.
O cunning Love! with tears thou keep’st me blind,
Lest eyes well-seeing thy foul faults should find.

Reading of Sonnet 148

Commentary

The sonneteer has come to end of his ability to explore new themes in his sonnet sequence: he is now rehashing the disparity between what he sees and what is there.

First Quatrain: Deceptive Eyes

O me! what eyes hath Love put in my head
Which have no correspondence with true sight;
Or, if they have, where is my judgment fled,
That censures falsely what they see aright?

In sonnet 141, the speaker begins, "In faith, I do not love thee with mine eyes / For they in thee a thousand errors note." And in sonnet 148, once again, he is broaching the subject of the deception of his "eyes": "O me! what eyes hath Love put in my head / Which have no correspondence with true sight."

He then conjectures that if his eyes are seeing correctly, then his discernment is gone, leaving him unable to distinguish right from wrong, error from accuracy, moral from immoral. In sonnet 141, he blames his lack of discrimination on his "heart," while in sonnet 148, he simply condemns his ability to think clearly.

Second Quatrain: False Eyes

If that be fair whereon my false eyes dote,
What means the world to say it is not so?
If it be not, then love doth well denote
Love’s eye is not so true as all men’s: no.

The speaker continues examining the possibility that his eyes simply do not see what is before him. He again tries to rationalize his feelings by comparison to what others think.

If his "false eyes" see correctly, and his lady is truly "fair," then others have to be sitting in false judgment. However, if what he sees is, in fact, tainted, then his eyes are "not so true as all men’s." He then reinforces the negative that he has come to believe with the simple negation, "no."

Third Quatrain: Troubled Eyes

How can it? O! how can Love’s eye be true,
That is so vex’d with watching and with tears?
No marvel then, though I mistake my view;
The sun itself sees not till heaven clears.

The speaker then questions, "How can it?," which he extends for clarification, "O! how can Love’s eye be true, / That is so vex’d with watching and with tears?" Reasoning that because his eyes are troubled by what he sees the woman do and then by the fact that he cries tears that blind his vision, he compares his eyes to the "sun" which "sees not till heaven clears."

By using his reason, he has determined that he could not possibly be seeing his mistress in all her reality because not only is his heart lead astray but his very eyesight in literally distorted from the real tears he sheds over the strained relationship.

The Couplet: Blinded by Tears

O cunning Love! with tears thou keep’st me blind,
Lest eyes well-seeing thy foul faults should find.

The speaker sums up his situation by craftily laying the blame at the woman’s feet: she deliberately keeps him blinded by tears, so that his normally "well-seeing" eyes cannot detect her "foul faults."

The real ''Shakespeare"

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

Questions & Answers

Question: What is the tone of Shakespeare's 148th sonnet?

Answer: In Shakespeare sonnet 148, the tone is regretful.

© 2018 Linda Sue Grimes

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