This is a short summary of Shakespeare sonnet 40. 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.
Shakespeare Sonnet 40 (Original Text)
Take all my loves, my love; yea, take them all.What hast thou then more than thou hadst before?No love, my love, that thou mayst true love call.All mine was thine before thou hadst this more.Then if for my love thou my love receivest,I cannot blame thee, for my love thou usest.But yet be blamed, if thou thyself deceivestBy wilful taste of what thyself refusest.I do forgive thy robb’ry, gentle thief,Although thou steal thee all my poverty;And yet love knows it is a greater griefTo bear love’s wrong than hate’s known injury.Lascivious grace, in whom all ill well shows,Kill me with spites; yet we must not be foes.
Shakespeare Sonnet 40 Modern Text (Translation)
Shakespeare Sonnet 40 Analysis
Shakespeare is telling his friend to take all his loves “Take all my loves, my love , yea, take them all.” He asks him what does he have now that he never had before. “What hast thou then more than thou hadst before?” He tells him he has never known real love “No love, my love,” and that the poets own love was his “All mine was thine” before the friend found this new love “before thou hadst this more”
The poet says, instead of loving him, “if for my love” he chooses to make love to the person the poet loves,” my love receivest” then he can’t really blame the friend “I cannot blame thee” who is actually taking advantage of him, “my love thou usest.” he tells the friend to blame himself, “yet be blamed,” if he lies to himself “thou thyself deceivest” and also makes love to another knowingly “wilful taste” while refusing the poets love “what thyself refusest.”
The poet forgives him calling him a gentle thief for stealing “forgive thy robb’ry,” the last thing he has “thou steal thee all my poverty;” and yet every lover knows “yet love knows” how sad it is “greater grief” to be hurt by someone whom you love “bear love’s wrong” rather than an enemy’s hateful injury “hate’s known injury.”
He tells his friend that even in his lustful nature he appears gracious Lascivious grace, in whom all ill well shows, and though he kills the poet emotionally, Kill me with spites; they should not be enemies we must not be foes.