My love is as a fever, longing still
For that which longer nurseth the disease,
Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,
The uncertain sickly appetite to please.
My reason, the physician to my love,
Angry that his prescriptions are not kept,
Hath left me, and I desperate now approve
Desire is death, which physic did except.
Past cure I am, now reason is past care,
And frantic-mad with evermore unrest;
My thoughts and my discourse as madmen's are,
At random from the truth vainly express'd;
For I have sworn thee fair and thought thee bright,
Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.
PARAPHRASE OF SONNET CXLVII
My love is like a fever, still longing,
For that which feeds the disease,
Feeding on that which prolongs the illness,
All to please the unhealthy desires of the body.
My reason, love's doctor,
Angry that I do not follow his directions,
Has left me, and desperate I find that desire
Leads to death, which physic (reason) will not allow.
Now reason is past caring, now I am past cure,
And I am frantic with continual unrest;
My thoughts and my words are like a madman's,
Lies foolishly uttered;
For I thought you were moral and bright (shining as a star),
But you really are black as hell and dark as night.
Shakespeare's scathing attack upon the morality of his mistress exemplifies their tumultuous and perplexing relationship. The three quatrains outline the poet's inner struggle to cope with both his lover's infidelity and the embarrassing self-admission that he still desires her to gratify him sexually, even though she has been with other men. The poet yearns to understand why, in spite of the judgment of reason (5), he still is enslaved by her charms. Confused by his own inexplicable urges, the poet's whole being is at odds with his insatiable "sickly appetite" (4) for the dark lady. He deduces in the final quatrain that he surely must be insane, for he calls his mistress just and moral when she obviously is neither. Not until later sonnets (150-1) do we see a change of tone and a cool-headed acknowledgment of the recklessness of the whole affair. In Sonnet 151, the poet admits that he cannot continue the relationship because it betrays his "nobler part" (6) i.