Summary and Analysis Sonnet 142


Delving into the awareness of sin, Sonnet 142 sums up the poet’s whole fatuous and insatiable passion. He supports the woman’s rejection of his love because he deems his love for her unworthy of him: “Love is my sin and thy dear virtue hate, / Hate of my sin, grounded on sinful loving.” He cannot help loving her, but he despises himself for doing so. Note that in lines 1 and 2, the poet compares himself to the woman using opposite qualities: The poet’s “Love” opposes the woman’s “hate,” and “my sin” contrasts to the cynical “thy dear virtue.” He believes that he deserves her contempt because of her damnable behavior, not because of his. Yet the poet feels that he deserves the woman’s pity because he shares her vice. Hurt by her rejection of him, the satirical thrust of his argument is unmistakable: “Be it lawful I love thee as thou lov’st those / Whom thine eyes woo as mine importune thee.” That is, he loves the woman in the same manner that she loves her many suitors: artificially, meanly, and basely. Ironically, however, her flirting with others becomes such an artful and “sinful loving” that he admires her and wants her more.