William Shakespeare

(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616 / Warwickshire)

Sonnet 151: Love Is Too Young To Know What Conscience Is - Poem by William Shakespeare

Love is too young to know what conscience is;
Yet who knows not conscience is born of love?
Then, gentle cheater, urge not my amiss,
Lest guilty of my faults thy sweet self prove.
For thou betraying me, I do betray
My nobler part to my gross body's treason;
My soul doth tell my body that he may
Triumph in love; flesh stays no farther reason,
But, rising at thy name, doth point out thee
As his triumphant prize. Proud of this pride,
He is contented thy poor drudge to be,
To stand in thy affairs, fall by thy side.
No want of conscience hold it that I call,
Her "love" for whose dear love I rise and fall.


Comments about Sonnet 151: Love Is Too Young To Know What Conscience Is by William Shakespeare

  • Fabrizio Frosini (2/1/2016 6:50:00 PM)


    One of the most puzzling sonnets, because the logic of it is not at all clear, and because there is very little in the literature of the time which gives clues as to how we should interpret it. Most of the Elizabethan sonnets are entirely restrained, and one almost believes that no thought of sex could ever have entered the lover's head. To a certain extent this is mere convention, and one has to read between the lines to see that complaints of the beloved's coldness, or that she is harder than flint and rock, imply that she refuses to give any sexual favours, not even a kiss. Occasionally a sonneteer oversteps the mark. Sidney, for example gives Stella a kiss while she is sleeping, and also writes a sonnet on desire, which I give below. But there is only one other sonnet which I know of among the many produced by Elizabethan sonnet writers which, like this one, oversteps the conventional bounds of what it is permissible to say of sexual desire. Sonnet 76 of Barnabe Barne's sequence Parthenophil and Parthenope instructs his 'upright parts of pleasure' to fall down, and tells his wanton thighs that they cannot entwine themselves round his mistress's thighs, as he had hoped. The sonnet may have had some influence on this one of Shakespeare's. (Report) Reply

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  • Fabrizio Frosini (2/1/2016 6:49:00 PM)


    However none of this is much use in guiding our interpretations, for we lack the background knowledge of the fault that he is charged with, which he threatens to throw back upon his mistress, and we do not have information from other sources that Cupid and conscience were linked in any way.

    The poem explores the relationship between sexuality and love, and comes to the conclusion that the two cannot be separated, a conclusion at variance with the established tradition, from Petrarch onwards, which emphasises the soul at the expense of the body, and veers much more towards the neo-Platonic view that only the visions of the soul are worthy of consideration.

    shakespeares-sonnets.com/
    (Report) Reply

  • Brian Jani (4/26/2014 6:16:00 AM)


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

  • Egal Bohen (3/1/2008 5:59:00 PM)


    Here Shakespeare talks of conscience, youth and treason
    Of love's triumph over flesh he doth recall
    It seems the lack of an ability to reason
    Results in votes of 1 from simple fools
    (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: pride, love, sonnet, rose



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003



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