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William Shakespeare, Sonnet cxliv

Two loves I have of comfort and despair,
Which like two spirits do suggest me still; [*]
The better angel is a man right fair,
The worser spirit a woman, colour'd ill.
To win me soon to hell, my female evil
Tempteth my better angel from my side,
And would corrupt my saint to be a devil,
Wooing his purity with her foul pride.
And whether that my angel be turn'd fiend,
Suspect I may, yet not directly tell;
But, being both from me, both to each friend,
I guess one angel in another's hell.
Yet this shall I ne'er know, but live in doubt,
Till my bad angel fire my good one out. [*]


line 2: Suggest -- tempt. [ Back to text ]

line 14: The variations in the copy of this Sonnet in The Passionate Pilgrim are very slight. In the eighth line, instead of foul pride, we have fair pride; in the eleventh, instead of from me, we have to me; in the thirteenth, instead of this shall I ne'er know, we have The truth I shall not know. [ Back to text ]

Most notes to Shakespeare's sonnets are from Charles Knight's edition, but those in square brackets are mine.