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Sonnet 42: That Thou Hast Her, It Is Not All My Grief
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616 / Warwickshire)

Sonnet 42: That Thou Hast Her, It Is Not All My Grief

Poem By William Shakespeare

That thou hast her, it is not all my grief,
And yet it may be said I loved her dearly;
That she hath thee is of my wailing chief,
A loss in love that touches me more nearly.
Loving offenders, thus I will excuse ye:
Thou dost love her because thou know'st I love her,
And for my sake even so doth she abuse me,
Suff'ring my friend for my sake to approve her.
If I lose thee, my loss is my love's gain,
And, losing her, my friend hath found that loss;
Both find each other, and I lose both twain,
And both for my sake lay on me this cross.
But here's the joy: my friend and I are one,
Sweet flattery! Then she loves but me alone.

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Comments (2)

Complexities in a love triangle beautifully unfolded in this equally beautiful poem.
Some of the sonnets discuss a love triangle between the speaker, his mistress and a young man. In sonnet 42, this young man is presented as the speaker’s ‘friend.’ The primary objective of this sonnet is to define the speaker’s role in the complex relationship between the youth and the mistress. Sonnet 42 is the final set of three sonnets known as the betrayal sonnets (40,41,42) that address the fair youth's transgression against the poet: stealing his mistress. This offense was referred to in Sonnets 33-35, most obviously in Sonnet 35, in which the fair youth is called a sweet thief. This same imagery is used again in Sonnet 40, when the speaker says, I do forgive thy robbery, gentle thief. Sonnet 41 implies that it is easy for the speaker to forgive the fair youth his betrayal, since it is the mistress that woos, tempted by the fair youth's beauty just as the speaker admires it. This affair is discussed later in sonnet 144-a poem which further suggests that the young man and the dark lady are lovers; “…my female evil tempteth my better angel from my side, ” [from Wikipedia]