William Shakespeare

(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616 / Warwickshire)

Sonnet 144: Two Loves I Have, Of Comfort And Despair

Poem by William Shakespeare

Two loves I have, of comfort and despair,
Which like two spirits do suggest me still:
The better angel is a man right fair,
The worser spirit a woman coloured ill.
To win me soon to hell, my female evil
Tempteth my better angel from my side,
And would corrupt my saint to be a devil,
Wooing his purity with her foul pride.
And whether that my angel be turned fiend,
Suspect I may, yet not directly tell;
But being both from me both to each friend,
I guess one angel in another's hell.
Yet this shall I ne'er know, but live in doubt,
Till my bad angel fire my good one out.

Comments about Sonnet 144: Two Loves I Have, Of Comfort And Despair by William Shakespeare

  • Imafidon Mac Henry (10/24/2016 11:25:00 AM)

    Shakespeare you are good. This is poetry, simply amazing(Report)Reply

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  • Fabrizio FrosiniFabrizio Frosini (1/31/2016 8:46:00 AM)

    This is a sonnet that is considered by many to be the key to understanding Shakespeare's attitude to love.
    It plays out the old battle between spiritual and physical love, a subject which had been the jousting field of argument for centuries. The poet seems to ally himself with the traditionalists who believed that the nature of woman was such as to corrupt pure love. In Platonic terms she was the material dross of which bodies were made, but the spiritual ideal love was independent of her, and true love could really only subsist between males. In terms of Christian theology, woman was the devil and was responsible for the fall since she had tempted man to eat forbidden fruit. Any form of congress with a woman was corrupting, and the ideal life would always be one of chastity and abstention from sex. The doctrine was alleviated slightly by devotion to Mary, the Mother of God, but despite giving birth she was a virgin and worshipped as the Blessed Virgin Mary. A mitigation to this view was the reality of life itself, which always returned to insist that the majority of men would continue to desire women.(Report)Reply

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  • Fabrizio FrosiniFabrizio Frosini (1/31/2016 8:45:00 AM)

    The poet here follows the traditional line that woman is the female evil, her sexuality being a threat not only to the poet who loves her, but also to the pure spirit of love of which his friend is the icon. The battle is between heaven and hell, between the spirit and the body, and the body seems to triumph over the spirit just as it does in Sonnet 129, and less agonisingly in 151. The net result is that the poet is flung into a rage of jealousy and, like Othello, his imagination runs riot as he thinks of what the lovers must have done together:
    Lie with her? Lie on her? - We say lie on her when they belie her. - Zounds, that's fulsome. - Handkerchief - confessions - handkerchief! - To confess and be hanged for his labour - first to be hanged, and then confess! I tremble at it. Oth.IV.1.36-41.
    This is the fevered imagination which guesses one angel in another's hell and broods with frenzied misogyny on his sense of betrayal. But one presumes it had a less tragic outcome than the Othello story.

    There is always some doubt about the autobiographical nature of these sonnets, although the majority of readers will inevitably take them to be personal accounts of suffering or elation.

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  • Brian JaniBrian Jani (4/26/2014 6:04:00 AM)

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

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Read poems about / on: angel, despair, evil, pride, woman, friend, fire, sonnet, women

Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003