Shakespeare Sonnet 144 Analysis: Two loves I have, of comfort and despair

Shakespeare Sonnet 144 Analysis: Two loves I have, of comfort and despair

This is a short summary of Shakespeare sonnet 144. 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 144 (Original Text)

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 colored 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, but 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.

-WIKI

Shakespeare Sonnet 144 Modern Text (Translation)

-via Sparknotes

Shakespeare Sonnet 144 Analysis

The poet says he loves two people; one comforts him the other makes him sad” Two loves I have, of comfort and despair” which are like two spirits who give him suggestions “Which, like two spirits, do suggest me still;” that the good angel is a fair man (presumably the fair lord) “The better angel is a man right fair,” and the wicked one is his mistress who is evil “The worser spirit a woman colored ill”.

To win over me so that she can put me in hell “To win me soon to hell, my female evil” the woman tempts his good angel the fair lord away from him “Tempteth my better angel from my side,” so that she can corrupt him and make him evil “And would corrupt my saint to be a devil,” by wooing an tempting his purity with her evil scheming ways of attraction “Wooing his purity with her foul pride.”

And if his fair friend the good angel will become bad or not “And whether that my angel be turned fiend” the poet suspects it may be possible although he doesn’t want to say so “Suspect I may, but not directly tell;” But since both are now turned away from him being friends with each other “But being both from me both to each friend,” he presumes one angel is in the other’s hell “I guess one angel in another’s hell.”

Yet he feels he will never know the truth and remain in doubt “Yet this shall I ne’er know, but live in doubt, till the bad angel has no use for the good one and kicks him out “Till my bad angel fire my good one out.”

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