Sonnet 138

When my love swears that she is made of truth, . . .


  1. Syntax: Note that we have a "when" clause. We are launched on a sentence of indeterminate length and we end this line with expectation, in suspense.

  2. Context: The first readers would meet this poem in a specific context -- the context of a sequence of love poems, written in an age when there was a fashion for sequences of sonnets. So the context sets us up to expect a love poem.

  3. So how does this love poem begin? There's a love relationship, and she talks to him. She's swearing her "truth". What does this mean? That she never tells lies? That she is and will be always faithful to him? She is emphatic: not just that she tells  the truth but that she is made  of truth.

  4. We might wonder, why is she swearing at all? Has he challenged her? Does she feel defensive?

  5. Tone: The speaker who's telling us the situation sounds pretty calm. He has no hesitation in calling her "his love," at any rate.

On to the next bit.