Sonnet 138

When my love swears that she is made of truth,
I do believe her, though I know she lies,
That she might think me some untutored youth,
Unlearnèd in the world's false subtleties.


  1. Ah, now we get his motivation ("that" = "so that"). And what is it? Another deception. He wants to mislead her, to make her see him as what he is not.

  2. What's more, he wants her to see him as simple, naive, unsophisticated, "untutored" -- i.e., some one who has not had lessons in the world and its ways -- and as young.

  3. So at the same time as he is deceiving himself by believing her lies, he is lying (tacitly) to her by presenting himself (in effect) as "made of truth" -- "Unlearnèd in the world's false subtleties." Quite a complicated bit of game playing going on here!

  4. And his tone as he tells us this? Is he pleased with his little game? Or is there a touch of sadness as he mentions "the world's false subtleties" which he so clearly is not unacquainted with? (I suppose both elements can be heard.)

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