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Sonnet 147

Sonnet 147

Feeding and Appetite

Symbol Analysis

So Shakespeare's probably not going to get his own cooking show, despite this poem's references to food and eating. In Sonnet 147, lust is associated with a sick patient's desire for the food that makes him sick and prevents him from getting better. Nope. That doesn't sound appetizing at all. All in all, this sonnet has a pretty gross outlook on sexual desire—it's portrayed as an unhealthy appetite that can lead to death.

  • Line 2: This line seems to anticipate the feeding metaphor that's going to get developed in the following lines. When the speaker suggests that he's craving the thing that "nurseth" his disease (a.k.a. his lust), he's saying that he desires the thing that's going to keep making him sick. The word "nurseth" is interesting because it can mean "to feed" (like a mom nurses her baby). 
  • Lines 3-4: Now the speaker comes right out and says that he's "feeding" on the thing that makes him sick in order to please an "uncertain sickly appetite." At this point, it's pretty clear Shakespeare is comparing sexual desire to an unhealthy appetite for food. By the way, Shakespeare does this a lot. Ever read Troilus and Cressida?

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