Study Guide

Sonnet 147 Madness

By William Shakespeare


My reason, the physician to my love,
Hath left me [...] (5-7)

Why on earth would our speaker talk about his ability to reason (think rationally) as if it were a person? (A doctor, to be exact.) It seems like he wants to admit that he's unable to think straight and make rational decisions because his desire is so powerful and out of control. At the same time, he also seems unwilling to take responsibility for his condition (and possibly his actions).

Past cure I am, now reason is past care, (9)

Here, our speaker claims that he's got no hope of ever being cured of his lust-sickness because reason has given up on him and is "past care." Do we buy it? It seems like the dude is just making excuses because he doesn't care to listen to reason.

And frantic mad with evermore unrest, (10)

Here's where the speaker starts to actually sound a little delirious. (Kind of like a feverish patient who's restless and out of breath.)

My thoughts and my discourse as madmen's are,
At random from the truth vainly expressed; (11-12)

Now this is interesting, Shmoopers. The speaker certainly wants us to believe he's losing his mind, but,he doesn't come out and say that he is mad. He says his thoughts and speech are as madmen's are. In other words, he's acting like madman because he's been running around saying a bunch of stuff that isn't true.

For I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright,
Who art as black as hell, as dark as night. (13-14)

So this is supposed to be our speaker's proof that he's been talking and thinking like a madman. He thought his mistress was beautiful and moral, but he was crazy to think that because it turns out that she's not. The problem is, this isn't evidence that the guy is mad. We think it's just the opposite. He knows the truth about his mistress—otherwise he wouldn't confront her here. Just like he's known all along that his desire for her is unhealthy but he can't control it.