When I’m really bored and looking for content I skim the sonnets. This time it is #141 that caught my eye, in particular it’s similarities to the famous #130 (“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”):
In faith I do not love thee with mine eyes,
For they in thee a thousand errors note;
But 'tis my heart that loves what they despise,
Who, in despite of view, is pleased to dote.
Nor are mine ears with thy tongue's tune delighted;
Nor tender feeling, to base touches prone,
Nor taste, nor smell, desire to be invited
To any sensual feast with thee alone:
But my five wits nor my five senses can
Dissuade one foolish heart from serving thee,
Who leaves unsway'd the likeness of a man,
Thy proud heart's slave and vassal wretch to be:
Only my plague thus far I count my gain,
That she that makes me sin awards me pain.
Most of this sonnet seems to go over similar themes about the gap between physical qualities and emotional attachment. The poet’s explaining that it’s not her looks – he could pick out 1000 things wrong with her. Nor is it the sound of her voice (makes you think that “music hath a much more pleasing sound” straight out of 130), or her smell. It seems downright rude to say “I’d rather not be in the same room alone with you, stinky.”
But yet nothing in his five senses can stop him from becoming completely entranced by her, transforming into a shell of his former self (“likeness of a man”).
Here’s where I get lost, though – the final couplet. I count my gain that she that makes me sin awards me pain? So she *makes* him sin, which sounds like a bad thing, and she “awards” him pain, which also sounds like a bad thing, and yet he counts this his gain?
Somebody enlighten me. Preferably without getting into a debate about ink splotches on the original page. :)