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Sonnet 147

Sonnet 147


by William Shakespeare

Longing and Longer, Still and Ill

Symbol Analysis

In the opening lines of the sonnet, Shakespeare beats us over the head with the idea that the speaker is so messed up that he actually wants to make his illness last longer. (Translation: since illness is a metaphor for sexual desire, it seems like the guy just can't give up a steamy relationship he's in, even though he knows it's bad for him.) So how does Shakespeare beat us over the head with the idea? With some clever wordplay, of course.

  • Lines 1-2: This is where the speaker says he's "longing" for (he desires) the thing that makes his disease last a "longer" period of time. See what he's doing here? The repetition of the word "long" makes it sound like this guy actually wants to or, longs to make his illness last even longer. 
  • Line 1: Did you notice how the word "still" has the word "ill" in it? "Still" means "always"—as in, our speaker always wants the thing that makes him ill. "Still" seems like a pretty deliberate word choice.

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