Shakespeare Sonnet 41, Those pretty wrongs that liberty commits

Shakespeare sonnet 41

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This is a short summary of Shakespeare sonnet 41. 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 41 (Original Text)

Those pretty wrongs that liberty commits
When I am sometime absent from thy heart,
Thy beauty and thy years full well befits,
For still temptation follows where thou art.
Gentle thou art, and therefore to be won;
Beauteous thou art, therefore to be assailed;
And when a woman woos, what woman’s son
Will sourly leave her till he have prevailed?
Ay me, but yet thou might’st my seat forbear,
And chide thy beauty and thy straying youth,
Who lead thee in their riot even there
Where thou art forced to break a twofold truth:
Hers by thy beauty tempting her to thee,
Thine by thy beauty being false to me.

Shakespeare Sonnet 41 Modern Text (Translation)

Shakespeare Sonnet 41

Shakespeare Sonnet 41 Analysis

In extension of sonnet no 40, Shakespeare continues to gently scold the young friend comparing his wrongdoing to little mistakes “pretty wrongs” which the young man takes the freedom to commit “liberty commits,” when the poet is temporarily away “I am sometime absent” And that such things are understandable because of the friends young age and good looks “beauty, and thy years full well” which is why women are ready to tempt him wherever he goes “temptation follows where thou art.”

Because the young man is a nobleman “Gentle thou art” hence is a prize catch among women “therefore to be won,” and because he is so handsome, “Beauteous thou art” women run after him aggressively “to be assail’d” and when it is a woman who pursues him, “when a woman woos,” no man on earth will refuse her “what woman’s son will sourly leave her”

But he tells the friend to at least stay away from his own mistress “my seat forbear,” and control his straying and sinful ways “thy straying youth,” which lead him into a situation “lead thee in their riot” where he is even breaking two bonds “forced to break a twofold truth:–“

One is the mistress’s infidelity because of being tempted by the youth’s beauty, “tempting her to thee,” and the other the relationship shared between the youth and the poet “thine by thy beauty being false to me.”

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