This is a short summary of Shakespeare sonnet 42. 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 42 (Original Text)
That thou hast her it is not all my grief,And yet it may be said I loved her dearly;That she hath thee is of my wailing chief,A loss in love that touches me more nearly.Loving offenders, thus I will excuse ye:Thou dost love her because thou knowst I love her;And for my sake even so doth she abuse me,Suff’ring my friend for my sake to approve her.If I lose thee, my loss is my love’s gain,And losing her, my friend hath found that loss;Both find each other, and I lose both twain,And both for my sake lay on me this cross.But here’s the joy; my friend and I are one;Sweet flatt’ry! Then she loves but me alone.
Shakespeare Sonnet 42 Modern Text (Translation)
Shakespeare Sonnet 42 Analysis
Shakespeare tells the friend that the fact he has stolen his wife” That thou hast her” isn’t the only reason he feels pain although he loved his wife a lot. “I loved her dearly;” He is more upset that his wife stolen the love of the youth from him “That she hath thee” which makes him feel worse “touches me more nearly.”
He will forgive them both offenders “thus I will excuse ye” because he says that the youth loves her “Thou dost love her” because the poet also loves her “thou know’st I love her;” and that his wife loves the youth because she knows that the poet also loves him “And for my sake even so doth she abuse me” and that because of the youth she will love the poet even more “ for my sake to approve her.”
If he loses the love of the youth, “If I lose thee,” then that would be his wife’s gain “ loss is my love’s gain” and if he loses his wife, it is his friends gain “my friend hath found that loss;”and that in this situation the lovers have found each other “Both find each other” and he loses them both “lose both twain” perhaps they are doing it for the poets good “for my sake” who makes the sacrifice “lay on me this cross:”
But since the poet and the friend have always been like one person “here’s the joy” united in love, then it means that the wife loves just one person, the poet. “then she loves but me alone.”