Sonnet 147 Questions
Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
- Whom do you think the speaker is talking to in this sonnet? Some folks think he's speaking to the same woman (a.k.a. the "Dark Lady") that shows up in a lot of other sonnets (127-152). Do you agree? Is there any evidence that he's addressing either a man or a woman?
- If you were going to turn Sonnet 147 into a video like these performers did, what would it look and sound like? Need some more inspiration? Here's another video from Shakespeare's Sonnets in the City.
- What does the speaker mean when he says "desire is death" (8)? Why does he feel this way?
- The speaker goes on and on about how he's lost his mind and has become a madman. Do you believe him? Why or why not?
- If you were hired to give titles to all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets, what would you call Sonnet 147?
- As we know, Sonnet 147 is an extended metaphor comparing sexual desire to an illness. Do you think there's any evidence in the poem that the speaker also has a literal disease? Why or why not? Does it even matter?
- Compare Shakespeare's Sonnet 147 to Edmund Spenser's Sonnet 50 from Amoretti. What kinds of themes and metaphors do these two poems share in common?
- Shakespeare scholar Harold Bloom calls Sonnet 147 "the most terrifying erotic poem [he] know[s]" (source). What the heck does he mean by that? Do you agree with him?