So shall I live, supposing thou art true,
Like a deceived husband; so love’s face
May still seem love to me, though altered new;
Thy looks with me, thy heart in other place:
For there can live no hatred in thine eye,
Therefore in that I cannot know thy change.
In many’s looks, the false heart’s history
Is writ in moods, and frowns, and wrinkles strange.
But heaven in thy creation did decree
That in thy face sweet love should ever dwell;
Whate’er thy thoughts, or thy heart’s workings be,
Thy looks should nothing thence, but sweetness tell.
How like Eve’s apple doth thy beauty grow,
If thy sweet virtue answer not thy show!
�This sonnet, continuing from the previous one, directly addresses a question which was always of great interest to Shakespeare: ‘How can a person be other than they seem to be to the outward senses? What laws of nature permit hypocrisy to be such a determining factor in human relationships?’ In the plays the drama is played out through the fictitious characters of a Macbeth, or an Iago, or Antonio, the usurping brother of Prospero in The Tempest. Here the reality is closer to home and the beloved himself, whose appearance is all light and virtue, threatens to be as deceitful as the serpent who betrayed Eve.
The question of the youth’s unfaithfulness remains unanswered, and the poet remains in the same uncertainty as before, nursing his imaginary wounds, and pondering the bitterness of love.
The 1609 Quarto Version
SO ſhall I liue,ſuppoſing thou art true,
Like a deceiued husband,ſo loues face,
May ſtill ſeem 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 fweet vertue anſwere not thy ſhow.
1. So shall I live, supposing thou art true,Continuing from the previous sonnet, this line takes up the suggestion that the beloved might be false.
So shall I live etc. – It seems, therefore, that I will continue to live in the belief that etc. The statement however reads almost as if it were a question: ‘Must I then continue to live, like a deceived husband whose faith is betrayed?’. The uncertainty of syntax mirrors the uncertainty of the poet. He does not know if the youth has rejected him, or if he is yet an outcast.2. Like a deceived husband; so love’s faceso love’s face = the appearance of love (my love for you, love as it is experienced by many) may also etc. With the suggestion also that it is the beloved’s face which could be false, even though it looks as fair as ever.3. May still seem love to me, though altered new;Your love for me will still seem to be the true love that it was before, even though in reality it will have changed.4. Thy looks with me, thy heart in other place:Thy looks with me = your loving glances, your appearance, and your behaviour, all seeming to approve me and indicating love towards me.
thy heart in other place = but your true feelings and inclinations turned towards others.5. For there can live no hatred in thine eye,Even if you did dislike me you appearance would not show it.
in thine eye = in your face.6. Therefore in that I cannot know thy change.in that = in any looks of hatred from you; (you may have changed towards me but your looks will not show that you have).
I cannot know thy change = I will be unable to tell if you have changed towards me.7. In many’s looks, the false heart’s historyIn many’s looks = in the facial expression of most people.
the false heart’s history = the record of emotional deception and betrayal.8. Is writ in moods, and frowns, and wrinkles strange.is writ in = is written as, is recorded by.
wrinkles strange = strange, untoward grimaces and twistings of the face.9. But heaven in thy creation did decreeIt was decreed by heaven at your birth.10. That in thy face sweet love should ever dwell;That your face would always be expressive of love; that love (Cupid, Venus, Eros) should always inhabit with you.11. Whate’er thy thoughts, or thy heart’s workings be,Whate’er = whatever.
thy heart’s workings = your inner thoughts and emotions. The heart, then as now, was often thought of as the seat of the emotions, especially in relation to love.12. Thy looks should nothing thence, but sweetness tell.Thy looks = your appearance, loving glances from you.
thence = coming from your heart.
tell = give an account of, record, count up.13. How like Eve’s apple doth thy beauty grow,Eve’s apple typified the object of fair appearance that was inwardly harmful or evil. Eating the fruit of the forbidden tree resulted in the expulsion of Adam and Eve from paradise and other evil consequences. According to Genesis, Eve was deceived by the serpent (the devil) and persuaded that by eating the fruit of the forbidden tree she would have knowledge of good and evil. The fruit was pleasant to look at, but the consequences of eating it were disastrous. See Genesis.3.6:
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
Traditionally the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was thought to be an apple, and all paintings show it as such.14. If thy sweet virtue answer not thy show!virtue = inner essence, moral character. Also with a reference to behaviour and adherence to moral precepts.
answer not = does not correspond to.
thy show = your outward appearance, your outward behaviour, as distinct from your inner motivations.