Sonnet 93

Shakespeare Sonnet 93

SO ſhall I liue, ſuppoſing thou art true,
Like a deceiued husband ſo loues face,
May ſtill ſeeme loue to me, though alter’d new:
Thy lookes with me, thy heart in other place.
For their can liue no hatred in thine eye,
Therefore in that I cannot know thy change,
In manies lookes, the falce hearts hiſtory
Is writ in moods and frounes and wrinckles ſtrange.
But heauen in thy creation did decree,
That in thy face ſweet loue ſhould euer dwell,
What ere thy thoughts, or thy hearts workings be,
Thy lookes ſhould nothing thence, but ſweetneſſe tell.
How like Eaues apple doth thy beauty grow,
If thy ſweet vertue anſwere not thy ſhow.

Sonnet 93 begins with Sonnet 92’s concluding thought that the friend may be false and the poet ignorant of it. He resolves accordingly to continue to live presuming the youth to be “true.” He will be like a “deceiued husband,” like a cuckold, who supposes the best and refuses to believe the worst, as did the original, deceived man, Adam. Then “loues face,” either the friend’s countenance or the face with which love presents itself, will “still seeme loue” to the poet, even though it is changeable (“alter’d new”). (In Sonnet 116 the first impediment to a “marriage of true mindes” is a “loue / Which alters when it alteration findes.”) The youth’s “lookes,” either his glances or his appearance, may stay with the poet, but his affections (“heart”) are directed elsewhere.

Because the friend’s eye is so fair, “no hatred” can dwell there; the poet can find no sinfulness in that quarter. By contrast, in the “lookes” of many others a history of false hearts can be discerned written in “moods and frounes and wrinckles strange.” (For the marriage rite’s use of “wrinckle” see Sonnet 92.) As in Sonnet 19, Shakespeare draws on the proverbial classical trope that wrinkles and frowns hide crimes and troubled thoughts, found in Ovid’s Amores, ‘from wrinkles many crimes are exposed’ (compare Dekker, The Belman of London, “countenances, wherein were ingrauen the pictures of troubled thoughts, which tolde that mischiefes were apt to breede there,” or Erasmus’ denial in The Praise of Folly, “nor do I feign one thing on my forehead and conceal another in my breast’). 1

The poet, however, affirms that God (“Heauen”), when creating the youth (“in thy creation”), decreed that in his face “sweet loue should euer dwell,” whatever his inner thoughts or the “workings” of his heart might be. His “lookes” should, therefore (“thence”), give an account only of “sweetnesse.” (It was conventionally held that looking caused the first sin and its first consequence was the eyes being opening: George Hakewill in The Vanitie of the eie argues that, “we finde the first outward occasion of it [sin] to haue been the fairenesse of the apple apprehended by the womens eie, & the punishment first inflicted on it to haue been the opening of the eies.”) 2 The poet concludes by applying to the youth the simile of “Eaues apple,” fruit of a tree that was “good to eate of, and pleasaunt to the eyes” (Gen. 3.6; BB), whose outer was fair but inner the source of sin. The youth will become like her apple, if he doesn’t allow his inner state (“sweet vertue”) to match his outer appearance (“show”).


93.1. Ovid, Amores 1.8.46, “de rugis crimina multa cadunt;” Thomas Dekker, The Belman of London (London: Nathaniel Butter, 1608) A4v; Erasmus, Moriae encomium Erasmi Roterodami (Parisiis: Gilles de Gourmont, 1511) Capitula 5, “nec aliud fronte simulo, aliud in pectore premo.”

93.2. Hakewill 32.