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,
Unlearn`ed in the world's false subtleties.
Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,
Although she knows my days are past the best,
Simply I credit her false-speaking tongue:
On both sides thus is simple truth suppressed.


  1. Another richly complicated word here in "simply". Am I being a simpleton? Or just acting like one? Is it at all simple to believe a liar? If we have pondered the paradoxes in the previous lines, "simple" is probably the last word we could have expected here.

  2. Is there a difference between "credit" and "believe"? He has already told us he believes her. Now perhaps there's a shade of extra meaning: he gives her credit for her lying, counts her lies in her favor?

  3. And if we suspected a hint of painful regret among the logic games of earlier lines, now the tone is quite clearly regretful. "Simple truth" is suppressed -- held back, kept under wraps.

  4. But "simple" truth? Is  there a simple truth that can be said to be simply suppressed? Aren't we already, in this poem, committed to a world of intellectual complexity and sophistication, in which "truth" has become elusive and problematical? If we feel this, we can still feel the nostalgic yearning for an innocent world of simple verities.

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