William Shakespeare

(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616 / Warwickshire)

Sonnet 138: When my love swears that she is made of truth

When my love swears that she is made of truth
I do believe her, though I know she lies,
That she might think me some untutored youth,
Unlearnèd in the world's false subtleties.
Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,
Although she knows my days are past the best,
Simply I credit her false-speaking tongue;
On both sides thus is simple truth suppressed.
But wherefore says she not she is unjust?
And wherefore say not I that I am old?
O, love's best habit is in seeming trust,
And age in love, loves not to have years told.
Therefore I lie with her, and she with me,
And in our faults by lies we flattered be.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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Comments about this poem (Sonnet 138: When my love swears that she is made of truth by William Shakespeare )

  • Gold Star - 13,881 Points * Sunprincess * (6/8/2014 7:59:00 AM)

    ~ When my love swears that she is made of truth
    I do believe her, though I know she lies, ~
    .............he does believe love....even though he knows she lies...
    .........this means he is a believer in love....great write.. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 59 Points Brian Jani (4/26/2014 5:53:00 AM)

    Awesome I like this poem, check mine out (Report) Reply

  • Silver Star - 3,558 Points Is It Poetry (6/8/2013 6:44:00 PM)

    I cannot lie but live to tell the truth.
    Flattered by the lips that never spoke.
    Eleven lines are left two split in half......iip (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 12,206 Points Ramesh Rai (6/8/2013 9:56:00 AM)

    And wherefore say not I that I am
    O, love's best habit is in seeming
    And age in love, loves not to have
    years told.
    Therefore I lie with her, and she with
    And in our faults by lies we flattered
    be (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Luke Agada (6/8/2013 6:12:00 AM)

    One very important thing in a love relationship is trust and understanding.This tightens the bound of love.As it has always been, Love is also about believing the best of others. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 94 Points Stephen Loomes (6/8/2013 5:48:00 AM)


    When my love swears that she is made of truth,

    I believe her, though I know she lies,

    So that she might think of me as some untutored youth,

    Unknowing of the world's false subtleties;

    And so vainly thinking of me as young,

    Although she knows my days are past the best,

    Simply I accept her false speaking tongue,

    And on both sides this is simple truth suppressed.

    But why won't she admit she is unjust?

    And why don't I admit that I am old?

    Because Love's best habit is in seeming to trust,

    And people in love,

    Don't seek to be reminded of their age;

    Therefore, I lie with her, and she with me,

    And in our faults, by these lies,

    We have our flattery. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 339 Points David Wood (6/8/2013 4:34:00 AM)

    A beautiful sonnet that captures all what a sonnet should be. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Carlos Echeverria (6/8/2012 10:56:00 AM)

    does this dress make me look fat? ...and from that mundane question, Shakespeare's worldly wisdom creates a beautiful sonnet. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 233 Points Manonton Dalan (6/8/2012 3:15:00 AM)

    sonnet was first poem we studied in grade school.
    who else wrote that one, shakespeares. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie James Green (6/8/2011 9:53:00 PM)

    People say that love is all about being honest and telling the truth, but they don't realize that sometimes it is in those innocuous lies that love tends to find true happiness. Shakespeare, the God of literature is one of the first few people to realize that.... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 233 Points Manonton Dalan (6/8/2010 4:29:00 PM)

    SOMETHING IN COMMON makes relationship worth holding. it just happen
    theirs is not very remarkable. i want to meet a person who never lies. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 585 Points Ramesh T A (6/8/2010 4:19:00 PM)

    Trusting love more than truth one enjoys life with the lady love! The fact of the truth is well expressed by the great bard based on his experience in life! It is interesting the way he puts the matter in this sonnet! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 23 Points Emma Adamyan (6/8/2010 2:46:00 PM)

    the only thought`s on my mind while reading W.S.- a talent that knew no borders! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Terence George Craddock (6/8/2010 11:38:00 AM)

    This is a truly wonderful sonnet, so well written, so wonderfully entertaining with intrigue. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Kevin Straw (6/8/2010 6:26:00 AM)

    I think we should distinguish between lies which keep the boat afloat, and lies which threaten its stability. A lie is analogue, not digital - at the one end of the spectrum is the white lie, at the other the black lie; and there are all shades of grey in between. Lies, as Shakespeare implies in this poem, can serve to keep alive a relationship, lies which, if the truth were told, would not very much matter. Both of these lovers understand well what is going on and accept it as an 'adhesive' to their relationship. Perhaps the word lie should have two meanings 1) a statement intended to deceive and benefit only the liar, and which, found out, would sink the boat.2) a statement intended to deceive and benefit both liar and lied to, and which, found out, would only cause the odd ripple; and which, indeed might strengthen the relationship. But lies are not a necessary part of love - they are tools in the kit which may or may not be used according to circumstances. This sonnet, seen in the context of the extremely fraught relationship between Shakespeare and the Dark Lady, seems to me a little too cosy to fit in - or perhaps is a moment of truce in the battle the Poet has with himself finding out why the hell he is so in thrall to her! There are several sonnets in this cycle which are indicative of the occasional schizophrenia of the Poet in love. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Jonathan Richards (6/9/2009 6:09:00 AM)

    Did you really think that we in the 21st century were the first to invent a little bit of artistic licence about our age or our tendency to 'cheat'? Of course not, says Shakespeare. Lying is part of love, an established social convention.

    Men and women don't lie to each other because they are wicked but because it is just nicer that way. Would you like it if your lover admitted that, quite frankly, he is a bit over the hill? How would you feel if she said that, put bluntly, if she sees a better looking specimen on offer at the Roxy on Friday night she will probably hook up with him? Of course you wouldn't like it. Much better to play along with a more pleasant sounding lie although, of course, both parties know the truth of the matter.

    The tone of the poem is breezy and light-hearted and words of contrast neatly bring out the double-dealing that is going on. In the first couplet we have a neat contrast between 'swears' and 'truth', between 'believe' and 'lies'. In fact, Shakespeare even lies to us: he doesn't 'believe her' at all because he knows she is lying. This is a poem of wit and verbal ingenuity that has its tongue firmly in its cheek and finishes off with a lovely image of contented lovers lying with each other while busy lying to each other. A lot of fun. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 6 Points Anthony Han (6/8/2009 6:01:00 PM)

    This poem is nice, the 1st two sentences are wonderful (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Christopher Provan (6/8/2009 4:42:00 PM)

    A realistically honest view of lifes complicated murky darker areas He does seem to have 'been there' in some way in his life and experienced something similar to what is expressed in poem. Certainly not a teenage idealist view. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Michael Pruchnicki (6/8/2009 8:38:00 AM)

    Shakespeare takes the conventional love sonnet of his day and ridicules the convention to a fare-thee-well. Don't most lovers swear on the Bible that they are true to the beloved? But the speaker knows that his lover lies because everyone who is not a naive kid does likewise! There is mutual agreement that such is the way of the world. We lie to avoid injuring our lover by telling the truth! Why not admit that she lies when she avoids telling me I'm too old for her, the speaker asserts. After all, lovers do not like to reveal their age even to one another. The final line is a play on the word 'lie' in its double meaning - to tell a falsehood or to copulate with each other. Check 'double entendre'! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Kevin Straw (6/8/2009 7:07:00 AM)

    I have to add this comment. How can this perfectly-formed and deeply true poem get less than a 10 rating? (Report) Reply

Read all 24 comments »

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