Shakespeare Sonnet 137 Analysis: Thou blind fool love, what dost thou to mine eyes

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This is a short summary of Shakespeare sonnet 137. Continue reading for complete analysis and meaning in the modern text. For the complete list of 154 sonnets, check the collection of Shakespeare Sonnets with analysis. It is highly recommended to buy “The Monument” by Hank Whittemore, which is the best book on Shakespeare Sonnets.

Shakespeare Sonnet 137 (Original Text)

Thou blind fool love, what dost thou to mine eyes,
That they behold, and see not what they see?
They know what beauty is, see where it lies,
Yet what the best is take the worst to be.
If eyes corrupt by over-partial looks
Be anchored in the bay where all men ride,
Why of eyes’ falsehood hast thou forgèd hooks,
Whereto the judgment of my heart is tied?
Why should my heart think that a several plot
Which my heart knows the wide world’s common place?
Or mine eyes, seeing this, say this is not,
To put fair truth upon so foul a face?
In things right true my heart and eyes have erred,
And to this false plague are they now transferred.
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Shakespeare Sonnet 137 Modern Text (Translation)

Shakespeare Sonnet 137 Modern English translation

-via SparkNotes

Shakespeare Sonnet 137 Analysis

The poet scolds “love” calling it a blind fool and asking what it has done to eyes “Thou blind fool love, what dost thou to mine eyes,” that they are seeing things differently and inaccurately “That they behold, and see not what they see?” His eyes know how to recognize beauty and where to find it “They know what beauty is, see where it lies,” but yet now, his eyes are seeing the worst and thinking it to be the best “Yet what the best is take the worst to be.”

He feels that since his vision is distorted because of the partial and biased way he sees his mistress “If eyes corrupt by over-partial looks” and staring at her even though she favors and sleeps with other men “Be anchored in the bay where all men ride,” then why has love used this visual misinterpretation to trap his heart “Why of eyes’ falsehood hast thou forgèd hooks,” making him love the wrong person “Whereto the judgment of my heart is tied?”

He asks why should his heart think that his mistress belongs to him “Why should my heart think that a several plot” in spite of knowing that she also belongs to several men “Which my heart knows the wide world’s common place?” And even as his eyes also see this but will not admit this to be true “Or mine eyes, seeing this, say this is not,” to regard the actual reality of his mistress who is a foul and guilty person

He says his eyes and heart has failed to see what is right and true “In things right true my heart and eyes have erred,” and as a result, they have bent raped to this false reality that he compares with the disease. ‘And to this false plague are they now transferred”

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