Sonnet 138

When my love swears that she is made of truth,
I do believe her, though I know she lies, . . .


  1. Well, now! Here's a surprise. He quite calmly presents us with a logical impossibility. Is this a joke? Complete non-sense? It is  a joke, certainly, and no mistake. Dull would he be of soul who could pass by a line like this without a laugh, or at least a wry smile.

  2. What are we laughing or smiling at? The speaker's calm tone is part of it: he doesn't seem at all embarrassed to be illogical. He even insists slightly: "I do believe her" -- not just "I believe her."

  3. We laugh surely at the comic contradiction between outward behavior (since his believing her is a reaction to her speech and thus a social act) and inward: his knowledge that she's lying. Can I inwardly both believe someone and know that they are lying? Only if I distinguish between different layers  of my consciousness. I could, probably, be telling myself on the surface of my mind that I believe, while at a deeper level knowing I was deceiving myself and being deceived.

  4. Expectations: Where will the poem go now? Will he rail against her lying? Will he be bitter about the complicated deceptions going on?

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