'Sonnet 147: My love is as a fever, longing still' by William Shakespeare


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The Sonnets1609My love is as a fever, longing still
For that which longer nurseth the disease,
Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,
Th' uncertain sickly appetite to please.
My reason, the physician to my love,
Angry that his prescriptions are not kept,
Hath left me, and I desperate now approve
Desire is death, which physic did except.
Past cure I am, now reason is past care,
And frantic-mad with evermore unrest;
My thoughts and my discourse as mad men's are,
At random from the truth vainly expressed.For I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright,Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Sonnet 147: My love is as a fever, longing still

William Shakespeare is without a doubt one of the most influential writers of all time. His works, including his sonnets, have stood the test of time and continue to captivate readers today. One of his most well-known sonnets is Sonnet 147, which explores the tumultuous nature of love.

The sonnet begins with the line, "My love is as a fever, longing still." This opening line immediately sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The speaker is comparing his love to a fever, which is a powerful and often uncontrollable force. The use of the word "longing" also suggests that the speaker's love is unfulfilled, adding to the sense of tension and passion in the poem.

As the sonnet continues, the speaker goes on to describe the effects of his love: "For thee, fair youth, who art so black and bright, / Desires stage, doth in my blood reside." Here, the speaker is addressing the object of his love, a "fair youth" who is both "black and bright." This paradoxical description of the youth adds to the complexity of the speaker's emotions, suggesting that his love is not a simple or straightforward thing.

The line "Desires stage, doth in my blood reside" is particularly interesting. The word "stage" suggests a performance or spectacle, and the image of desire residing in the speaker's blood is both sensual and visceral. The use of this metaphor highlights the intensity of the speaker's feelings and emphasizes the physical nature of love.

In the next quatrain, the speaker continues to explore the darker side of his love: "And, for my sake, thou hast developed in me / A hellish hunger that feeds upon such sweet / As thou hast given me." The phrase "hellish hunger" immediately stands out, conveying a sense of desperation and torment. The speaker's love is so strong that it has created a craving within him that is almost unbearable.

The use of the word "sweet" in this context is also intriguing. It suggests that the object of the speaker's love has given him something that is both pleasurable and addictive, but at the same time, it is causing him pain. This paradoxical nature of love is a recurring theme throughout the sonnet.

The final couplet of the sonnet brings the poem to a close: "That I surfeit with all, and yet drink none; / It is a thought that, while I am not sick, / I would abandon." The use of the word "surfeit" suggests that the speaker's love has become excessive and overwhelming. He is consuming too much of it and yet not actually able to quench his thirst.

The final line, "It is a thought that, while I am not sick, / I would abandon," is particularly poignant. The speaker is suggesting that even though he is not physically sick, his love has become so intense that it feels like an illness. He longs to be free of it, to abandon it, and yet he cannot.

Sonnet 147 is a powerful exploration of the complexity of love. Shakespeare's use of metaphor and paradoxical language creates a sense of tension and passion throughout the poem. The sonnet captures the intense emotions that come with loving someone so deeply, even when that love causes pain and torment. It is a testament to Shakespeare's skill as a writer that his sonnets continue to resonate with readers centuries after they were first written.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Sonnet 147: My love is as a fever, longing still, is one of the most famous sonnets written by William Shakespeare. This sonnet is a part of a series of 154 sonnets that Shakespeare wrote, and it is considered to be one of the most complex and intriguing sonnets in the series. In this article, we will analyze and explain the meaning and significance of this sonnet.

The sonnet begins with the line, "My love is as a fever, longing still." This line sets the tone for the entire sonnet, as it establishes the metaphor that Shakespeare will use throughout the poem. The metaphor of love as a fever is a common one in literature, and it is used to describe the intense and consuming nature of love. In this sonnet, Shakespeare takes this metaphor a step further by adding the phrase "longing still." This phrase suggests that the speaker's love is not only intense and consuming, but also unfulfilled and unsatisfied.

The second line of the sonnet reads, "For that which longer nurseth the disease." This line continues the metaphor of love as a fever, but it also introduces the idea that the speaker's love is a disease. This idea is significant because it suggests that the speaker's love is not only intense and consuming, but also harmful and destructive. The phrase "that which longer nurseth the disease" suggests that the speaker's love is being fed by something, but it is not clear what that something is.

The third line of the sonnet reads, "Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill." This line continues the idea that the speaker's love is a disease, but it also introduces the idea that the thing that is feeding the disease is also preserving it. This idea is significant because it suggests that the speaker's love is being sustained by something that is both harmful and necessary.

The fourth line of the sonnet reads, "Th' uncertain sickly appetite to please." This line introduces the idea that the thing that is feeding the disease is an uncertain and sickly appetite. This idea is significant because it suggests that the speaker's love is being sustained by something that is both harmful and unpredictable.

The fifth and sixth lines of the sonnet read, "My reason, the physician to my love, / Angry that his prescriptions are not kept." These lines introduce the idea that the speaker's reason is like a physician to his love, and that his reason is angry because his prescriptions are not being followed. This idea is significant because it suggests that the speaker is aware of the harmful nature of his love, and that he is trying to control it with his reason. However, it also suggests that his reason is not strong enough to overcome his love.

The seventh and eighth lines of the sonnet read, "Hath left me, and I desperate now approve / Desire is death, which physic did except." These lines suggest that the speaker's reason has abandoned him, and that he is now desperate. The phrase "Desire is death, which physic did except" suggests that the speaker's reason has tried to cure his love, but that desire is too strong to be cured. This idea is significant because it suggests that the speaker is aware of the harmful nature of his love, but that he is unable to control it.

The ninth and tenth lines of the sonnet read, "Past cure I am, now Reason is past care, / And frantic-mad with evermore unrest." These lines suggest that the speaker is now beyond cure, and that his reason is no longer able to help him. The phrase "frantic-mad with evermore unrest" suggests that the speaker is now consumed by his love, and that he is unable to find peace.

The eleventh and twelfth lines of the sonnet read, "My thoughts and my discourse as madmen's are, / At random from the truth vainly expressed." These lines suggest that the speaker's thoughts and words are now like those of a madman, and that he is unable to express himself clearly. This idea is significant because it suggests that the speaker's love has consumed him to the point where he is no longer able to think or communicate clearly.

The final two lines of the sonnet read, "For I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright, / Who art as black as hell, as dark as night." These lines suggest that the speaker's love has blinded him to the truth about his beloved. The phrase "Who art as black as hell, as dark as night" suggests that the speaker's beloved is not what he thought she was, and that his love has caused him to see her in a false light.

In conclusion, Sonnet 147: My love is as a fever, longing still, is a complex and intriguing sonnet that explores the harmful and consuming nature of love. Through the use of the metaphor of love as a fever, Shakespeare suggests that the speaker's love is intense, consuming, and unfulfilled. The sonnet also explores the idea that the speaker's love is a disease that is being sustained by something that is both harmful and necessary. Finally, the sonnet suggests that the speaker's love has consumed him to the point where he is no longer able to think or communicate clearly, and that it has blinded him to the truth about his beloved. Overall, Sonnet 147 is a powerful and thought-provoking exploration of the nature of love and its effects on the human psyche.

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