Being your slave, what should I do but tend

Shakespeare’s sonnet 57 is the poem I have chosen today. I guess it’s a love sonnet, but seen through a somewhat jaundiced lens. To me it describes a phase in love where you are completely dependent on the loved one, almost in an infantile way, abandoning self-awareness and proportion. But it could only be written by someone who has fallen out of love and looks back on the madness of that time.


Being your slave, what should I do but tend
Upon the hours and times of your desire?
I have no precious time at all to spend,
Nor services to do, till you require.
Nor dare I chide the world-without-end hour
Whilst I, my sovereign, watch the clock for you,
Nor think the bitterness of absence sour
When you have bid your servant once adieu;
Nor dare I question with my jealous thought
Where you may be, or your affairs suppose,
But, like a sad slave, stay and think of nought
Save, where you are how happy you make those.
So true a fool is love that in your will,
Though you do anything, he thinks no ill.

From <;

The poet in love is the slave, the loved one is the sovereign, occupying his every moment, even in the absence of the loved one. The final couplet acknowledges the folly of this behaviour, love is blind to the shortcomings and misbehaviour of the loved one.

Poems like this lay bare the inconsistencies and foolishness of the state of being in love. We have all done it, we can all recognise it in others, but this poem makes anyone who is in love confront their beaviour when in love.

Thanks again, Mr. Shakespeare…

The Poetry Dude


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