Poetry: Shakespeare – Sonnet 138

When my love swears that she is made of truth,

I do believe her, though I know she lies,

That she might think me some untutored youth,

Unlearnèd in the world’s false subtleties.

Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,

Although she knows my days are past the best,

Simply I credit her false-speaking tongue:

On both sides thus is simple truth suppressed.

But wherefore says she not she is unjust?

And wherefore say not I that I am old?

Oh, love’s best habit is in seeming trust,

And age in love loves not to have years told.

    Therefore I lie with her and she with me,

    And in our faults by lies we flattered be.

Shakespeare, Sonnet 138

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 138, along with Sonnet 130, makes me laugh every time. King of the quips, Shakespeare filled this poem with backhanded compliments and double entendres. But despite its rather bawdy content, I find the poem humorous and delightful. I wonder if Shakespeare is actually speaking of his wife when he writes this, and for the moment, I will assume he is. What fun these two are having! To play at half-truths to make the other feel as though they are young, bringing each other the happiness of youth. Yes, time has come for them. But together, they jest and “lie” with each other, flattering each other. And in a roundabout way, they bring contentment. For yes, they lie about their age, and yes, they each make the other feel as though they are young, but is it not so with two lovers? There is a timelessness, a continuity in old love with a once new love. Though old, their love often feels young again. Yes, they point out faults and cover over others. But does not love cover over some faults? Together imperfect, together made whole. So, I laugh at this poem, and ponder it. For though I grimace at the thought of lying, I see beyond Shakespeare’s faults to the moments of fun and joy and play and truth that only can be met in the loved-over faults of two made one.

Blessings to you and yours,

~Madelyn Rose Craig

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