We've got to be honest with you, Shmoopers. The speaker of Sonnet 146 sounds more like a 16th-century preacher than the lusty poet we're used to hanging out with in the other 153 sonnets. Elsewhere in Shakespeare's sonnet cycle, the guy is all about embracing every single pleasure that this world has to offer: love, sex, friendship, poetry, to name a few.
Then we get Sonnet 146, where the speaker spends the first 8 lines beating himself up for neglecting his inner soul and giving in to all of his bodily desires (like sex, food, clothing, etc.). Hmm. Sounds like someone's feeling guilty about his lifestyle, don't you think? At this point in the sonnet cycle, our speaker seems to be taking stock of his life and trying to figure out how his time should be spent here on earth.
All Death All the Time
Oh, did we mention he is totally preoccupied with death? You did notice his creepy reminder to himself that when his body dies, worms are going to feast on his corpse, right? Gross. Maybe even grosser than Hamlet killing Polonious and then joking about how the guy is having supper with worms.
If you've read already read the sonnet then you probably picked up on the fact that our speaker is a pretty religious guy and the dude definitely knows the Bible like the back of his hand. His ideas about traditional Christian theology shape his outlook on life and death. He believes that although his body is mortal, his spirit is immortal and that he can live for eternity in heaven and defeat death.
The only problem is, he never really says how exactly he's going to go about getting his spirit into heaven. He talks a whole lot about the need to nourish his inner spirit but, he doesn't ever tell us how he's going to go about doing that. What's up with that, Shmoopers? Let us know when you work it out.