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Shakespeare's Sonnets - Sonnet 40


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Shakespeare's Sonnets - Sonnet 40
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Sonnet 40



This first of three linked sonnets accuses the young man of having stolen the poet’s “love.” The poet struggles to justify and forgive the young man’s betrayal, but can go no farther than the concluding “we must not be foes.” (While the word love is elaborately ambiguous in this sonnet, the following two sonnets make it clear that the theft is of the poet’s mistress.)

Take all my loves, my love, yea, take them all.
What hast thou then more than thou hadst before?
No love, my love, that thou mayst true love call;
4All mine was thine before thou hadst this more.
Then, if for my love thou my love receivest,
I cannot blame thee for my love thou usest;
But yet be blamed if thou thyself deceivest
8By willful taste of what thyself refusest.
I do forgive thy robb’ry, gentle thief,
Although thou steal thee all my poverty;
And yet love knows it is a greater grief
12To bear love’s wrong than hate’s known injury.
 Lascivious grace, in whom all ill well shows,
 Kill me with spites, yet we must not be foes.