Summary and Analysis Sonnet 137


The dichotomy between the impulses of the eye and the heart is developed further in this sonnet. After the preceding two sexually comic sonnets, Sonnet 137 presents the poet seriously musing over just how false love can be. He first addresses Love, which he calls “A blind fool” and blames Love for misleading him about the woman’s moral character. In the second quatrain, the poet asks Love why it encourages him to love the woman, “Whereto the judgment of [the poet’s] heart is tied.” Angry at, and highly uncomplimentary of the woman, the poet characterizes her as a loose woman, “the wide world’s common place.” Still the poet is confused, for he finds himself insensibly drawn to a woman whom he ought — in a more rational state of mind — to repudiate. The conflict between passion and judgment shows just how mortified and perplexed he is by his submission to an irrational, impulsive element of his personality: “Or mine eyes seeing this [the woman’s wantonness], say this is not, / To put fair truth upon so foul a face.” The mistress no longer is the focus of the sonnet; now the poet’s concern is with the nature and workings of human judgment.