3 Jun 2013

Sonnet 147 My Love is Like a Fever: Shakespeare's Sonnets of Lust not Love for GCSE

Ever had a love affair that didn't go the way you wanted? If you've ever been obsessed, cheated on, felt like you couldn't go on, then you might enjoy this. It's one of the very last poems Shakespeare wrote to his lover, the Dark Lady of the Sonnets.
The sonnet is below, with a translation. Get a super detailed A* grade analysis here.

Sonnet 147
Shakespeare
My love is as [like] a fever, longing [wishing] still
For that which longer nurseth [prolongs] the disease,
Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill, [disease feeds on disease]
The uncertain sickly appetite to please. [yet it pleases me]
My reason, the physician [doctor] to my love,
Angry that his prescriptions are not kept,
Hath [has] left me, and I desperate now approve [i.e. I've lost my senses]
Desire is death, which physic did except. [i.e. this lust will kill me]
Past cure I am, now reason is past care,
And frantic-mad with evermore [continual] unrest [agitation];
My thoughts and my discourse [talk] as madmen's are, [i.e. I'm mad]
At random from the truth vainly express'd; [i.e. what I say is all lies]
For I have sworn thee fair and thought thee bright,
Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.




In other words...

This love is like a disease. It makes me desire

The thing that makes this sickness worse.
My illness is feeding on itself,
Which pleases my sick appetite.
Common sense, like a doctor, should cure me,
Gives prescriptions, but I refuse the medicine.
So I've lost my senses, am desperate and believe 
This lust will kill me.
I'm past cure, past caring
Mad with continual agitation
I think and speak like a madman
I'm lost from truth, because:
I have sworn you were pure, and thought you good
Who are as black as hell, as dark as night.


Harsh!
But fair?

Learn more about Shakespeare's Sonnets
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If you're a teacher and would like to use it in class, please include the attribution (c) 2013 Melanie Kendry www.ateacherwrites.com
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The author, , is an Oxford graduate, outstanding-rated English Language and Literature teacher and of ages 10-18 in the British education system. In 2012, she was nominated for Pearson's Teaching Awards. As a private tutor, she raises grades often from C to A. She is a current GCSE Examiner. Her writing is also featured in The Huffington Post. She offers private tuition in the Haywards Heath area, West Sussex.