O! for my sake do you with Fortune chide,
The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds,
That did not better for my life provide
Than public means which public manners breeds.
Thence comes it that my name receives a brand,
And almost thence my nature is subdued
To what it works in, like the dyer's hand:
Pity me, then, and wish I were renewed;
Whilst, like a willing patient, I will drink
Potions of eisell 'gainst my strong infection;
No bitterness that I will bitter think,
Nor double penance, to correct correction.
Pity me then, dear friend, and I assure ye,
Even that your pity is enough to cure me.
Sonnet 111 is one of 154 sonnets written by the English playwright and poet William Shakespeare. It is a member of the Fair Youth sequence, in which the poet expresses his love towards a young man.
The youth chides the goddess of fortune for providing for the poet nothing better than the public's / common people's applause. For this success the poet has to make his living in the public sphere, what is a shame. In doing so he is degraded, and almost finds himself sullied like a professional dyer stained with his dyes. He asks the youth to hope the poet will be regenerated after taking cleansing medicine against his infection. No medicine will be too bitter, but the youth's pity will be the most effective cure.