Arguing that his actions were impulsive and uncontrollable, the poet sincerely apologizes for betraying the youth. He describes the destruction of the relationship as tragic, for it is his most prized possession: “What wretched errors hath my heart committed, / Whilst it hath thought itself so blessed never!” However, he acknowledges that there are some benefits from the relationship’s demise. Sonnet 119 takes the reader from the poet’s infatuation for the youth to his newfound attraction — the Dark Lady. Although she is never directly named, she is likened to “this madding fever,” and hers are “Siren tears / Distilled from limbecks foul as hell within.” Full of remorse, the poet returns to his old love with greater poignancy and ardor (lines 12 and 13). Nevertheless, there is more hope than certainty that by “ruined love” rebuilt he shall find a love made stronger by the breach.
limbecks gourd-shaped vessels used in distilling.