Sonnet 10

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Sonnet 10

For shame deny that thou bear'st love to any,
Who for thy self art so unprovident.
Grant, if thou wilt, thou art beloved of many,
But that thou none lov'st is most evident:
For thou art so possessed with murderous hate,
That 'gainst thy self thou stick'st not to conspire,
Seeking that beauteous roof to ruinate
Which to repair should be thy chief desire.
O! change thy thought, that I may change my mind:
Shall hate be fairer lodged than gentle love?
Be, as thy presence is, gracious and kind,
Or to thyself at least kind-hearted prove:
Make thee another self for love of me,
That beauty still may live in thine or thee.

–William Shakespeare

Sonnet 10 is another of Shakespeare's procreation sonnets. Shakespeare uses a rather harsh tone to admonish the young man for his refusal to fall in love and have children.

This sonnet continues and amplifies the theme of "hatred against the world" which appears rather suddenly in the last couplet of Sonnet 9. The two sonnets may be said therefore to be linked (like Sonnets 5 and 6 or Sonnets 15 and 16) even though the linkage takes a different form.

Synopsis and analysis[edit]

The procreation theme is repeated, though for the first time a personal relationship between the poet and the youth is stated, even to the extent that the youth is asked to have a child to please the poet. In looking after himself alone the youth is accused of being “unprovident,” of not disposing of his wealth properly and of not thinking of the future (pro + videre = to look in advance).[1]

The poem stresses the charm of the youth. According to Shakespeare, the youth must concede (“Grant”), if he is so disposed (“if thou wilt”), that he is loved by many, as was Narcissus, who in Golding’s words, “the hearts of divers trim yong men his beautie gan to move, / And many a Ladie fresh and faire was taken in his love.” Like Narcissus, who “to be toucht of man or Mayde . . wholy did disdaine,” the youth also refuses to be touched by or to love another.[1]

The middle lines toy with imagery of political rebellion, mentioning conspiracies and destruction of houses. The youth is like the biblical house, which if it “be deuided agaynst it selfe, that house can not continue” (Mark 3.25; BB). The verse was used of the house of Satan and was a familiar topic of sermons.[1]

The youth is also instructed to “change thy thought,” a change similar to the biblical imperative of metanoia, to change one’s mind, often translated as “repent,” so that the poet will be of a different “mind” or memory.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Larsen, Kenneth J.. "Sonnet 10". Essays on Shakespeare's Sonnets. Retrieved 23 November 2014. 

Further references[edit]

  • Alden, Raymond (1916). The Sonnets of Shakespeare, with Variorum Reading and Commentary. Houghton-Mifflin, Boston.
  • Baldwin, T. W. (1950). On the Literary Genetics of Shakspeare's Sonnets. University of Illinois Press, Urbana.
  • Booth, Stephen (1977). Shakespeare's Sonnets. Yale University Press, New Haven.
  • Dowden, Edward (1881). Shakespeare's Sonnets. London.
  • Hubler, Edwin (1952). The Sense of Shakespeare's Sonnets. Princeton University Press, Princeton.
  • Schoenfeldt, Michael (2007). The Sonnets: The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare’s Poetry. Patrick Cheney, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Tyler, Thomas (1989). Shakespeare’s Sonnets. London D. Nutt.
  • Vendler, Helen (1997). The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

External links[edit]