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This particular sonnet uses a conceit (extended metaphor) comparing love (or lust - you make the call) to an illness. Reason is compared to the physician, but in this instance, he's past all help. And I really and truly love the closing couplet in this one, which is dark and twisty and wonderful.

Sonnet 147
by William Shakespeare

My love is as a fever, longing still
For that which longer nurseth the disease,
Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,
The uncertain sickly appetite to please.
My reason, the physician to my love,
Angry that his prescriptions are not kept,
Hath left me, and I desperate now approve
Desire is death, which physic did except.
Past cure I am, now reason is past care,
And frantic-mad with evermore unrest;
My thoughts and my discourse as madmen's are,
At random from the truth vainly expressed;
  For I have sworn thee fair and thought thee bright,
  Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.

Form: It's a Shakespearean sonnet, of course, written in iambic pentameter (five iambic feet per line, ta-DUM ta-DUM ta-DUM ta-DUM ta-DUM), and using the rhyme scheme ABABCDCDEFEFGG.

Discussion: As noted at the start of the post, Shakespeare employs a conceit throughout the poem - here, the word conceit means an extended metaphor, and has nothing to do with being stuck up. The comparison is to illness or addiction. In fact, you could easily sing the lines "I'm addicted to ya, baby, you're a hard habit to break" (from the band Chicago's "Hard Habit to Break") after reading this, and it would fit right in, though the song has to do with being separated from the person, and Shakespeare . . . is not. He's stuck in his relationship, addicted to his lover, and crazy enough to swear they are wonderful, despite knowing that they are not.

Oh the dark and twisty goodness of this poem.

I will be back later today with the penultimate chapter of Emma.

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 15th, 2013 09:57 pm (UTC)
Just re-read Sayers' "Clouds of Witness" yesterday, a story much in sympathy with this poem.
Apr. 17th, 2013 02:23 am (UTC)
There are many stories and songs (and probably other poems) in sympathy with this poem, don't you think?
Apr. 17th, 2013 07:37 am (UTC)
I daresay. The plot of Clouds of Witness hinges back to Manon Lescaut, and faithfulness in the face of the beloved's perfidy is probably one of the Seven Original Plots of the World.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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