Shakespeare Sonnet 153

Updated on June 5, 2020
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

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

Source

Introduction and Text of Sonnet 153

The two final sonnets 153 and 154 are nearly identical; 154 is essentially a paraphrase of 153. They differ from the other "dark lady" poems in two main ways: they do not address the lady directly as most of the others do, and they employ use of Roman mythology for purposes of analogy.

Sonnet 153

Cupid laid by his brand and fell asleep
A maid of Dian’s this advantage found,
And his love-kindling fire did quickly steep
In a cold valley-fountain of that ground;
Which borrow’d from this holy fire of Love
A dateless lively heat, still to endure,
And grew a seething bath, which yet men prove
Against strange maladies a sovereign cure.
But at my mistress’ eye Love’s brand new-fired,
The boy for trial needs would touch my breast;
I, sick withal, the help of bath desired,
And thither hied, a sad distemper’d guest,
But found no cure: the bath for my help lies
Where Cupid got new fire, my mistress’ eyes.

Reading of Sonnet 153

Commentary

Sonnet 153 alludes to Roman mythology through the characters of Cupid, god of love, and Diana, goddess of the hunt.

First Quatrain: Carrying a Torch

Cupid laid by his brand and fell asleep
A maid of Dian’s this advantage found,
And his love-kindling fire did quickly steep
In a cold valley-fountain of that ground;

In the first quatrain of Sonnet 153, the speaker, who is still the same speaker smarting from his unsatisfactory love affair with the dark mistress, dramatically alludes to the Roman god of love, Cupid. In this little drama, Cupid falls asleep leaving his torch unattended. One of Diana’s handmaidens sees Cupid asleep and steals off with his torch, which she tries to extinguish by dipping in a cold-spring pool of water.

The speaker, in addition to exposing yet again his suffering at the hands of his dark mistress, dramatizes a myth wherein medicinal hot springs is created. His clever portrayal also employs an analogy between the Cupid torch and his own physical and mental torch of love. The expression "to carry a torch" for someone after the breakup of a romance comes from the mythological Cupid with his torch.

Second Quatrain: From Cold to Hot Springs

Which borrow’d from this holy fire of Love
A dateless lively heat, still to endure,
And grew a seething bath, which yet men prove
Against strange maladies a sovereign cure.

The Dianian nymph, however, was unsuccessful in extinguishing the torch’s flame, but the spring takes on the heat, transforming its cold waters into a hot-springs bath that people henceforth would use for curing physical ailments. The waters are heated by the powerful "holy fire of Love," and a "seething bath" continued in perpetuity, "which yet men prove / Against" all manner of physical illness; they come to the baths to seek "sovereign cure."

Third Quatrain: Allusion to Explicate Delusion

But at my mistress’ eye Love’s brand new-fired,
The boy for trial needs would touch my breast;
I, sick withal, the help of bath desired,
And thither hied, a sad distemper’d guest,

In the third quatrain, the purpose of the little Cupid-Diana drama becomes apparent. The speaker is dramatizing his own "holy fire of Love," that is, his passion for his mistress. When he sees his mistress, or even just "[his] mistress’ eyes," his own "Love brand," that is, male member becomes "new-fired" or aroused to sensual desire.

If the little god of love were to touch the speaker’s breast with his torch, the speaker would again become love sick, as he always does, and he would hurry to the hot springs that Cupid’s torched had created to try to be cured of his love-sickness. However, the speaker asserts that he would be "a sad distemper’d guest" at the baths resort because he is always in a melancholy funk through the ill-treatment he suffers at the hands of the dark lady.

The Couplet: No Help

But found no cure: the bath for my help lies
Where Cupid got new fire, my mistress’ eyes.

Unlike others who might have experienced a cure at the medicinal hot springs, this speaker, unfortunately, "found no cure." Referring to his male appendage as "Cupid" now, he claims that he could get help only from his "mistress’ eyes," those same pools that always stimulate him to the passion of coital arousal.

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 | Source

The Mystery of Shakespeare

© 2018 Linda Sue Grimes

Comments

Submit a Comment

No comments yet.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)