The poet deeply regrets his lapse of attention to the young man and wishes to show his disgust and self-reproach. He lists his faults and expresses resentment at being bound to his “motley” course and for selling “cheap what is most dear” — his love for the young man. Almost masochistically, he believes that he has hurt himself, a self-injury deserving the youth’s reproach as well.
Sonnet 110 is unified by the poet’s notion of truth and the many different ways truth is expressed: “’tis true,” “Most true,” “looked on truth,” and “pure and most most loving.” The sonnet incorporates the poet’s movement from regret of an earlier behavior to his fawning over the young man. In the first quatrain, the poet admits that he offended the young man by his actions, although just what those actions were he doesn’t say until in the second quatrain: He displayed affection for “another youth.” However, this brief relationship has only strengthened his love for the young man, whom he calls “my best of love.” Vowing never again to “grind / On newer proof, to try an older friend,” the poet begs the young man, “Then give me welcome, next my heaven the best,” and he ingratiates himself to the youth by calling him his “pure and most most loving breast.” The double use of the word “most,” although it seems falsely affected, emphasizes the deep emotion the poet has for the youth, “A god in love” to whom the poet is “confined.”