Clouds and eclipses obscure both the moon and sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.
And the canker worm chooses the sweetest bud to invade.
All men make faults, and even I in this,
Everybody commits faults, and even I in doing this,
Authorizing thy trespass with compare,
Justifying your crimes by comparisons [in lines 2/3],
Myself corrupting, salving thy amiss,
Making myself a corrupt pleader by trying to remedy your misdeeds,
Excusing thy sins more than thy sins are;
Excusing your sins and even sins you haven't committed;
For to thy sensual fault I bring in sense--
For I bring reason to side with your sensual faults--
Thy adverse party is thy advocate--
The opponent in this case is your advocate--
And 'gainst myself a lawful plea commence:
And against myself I begin a lawful plea:
Such civil war is in my love and hate
I am so torn apart by loving and hating you at the same time
That I an accessary needs must be
That I must become an accessory
To that sweet thief which sourly robs from me.
To [you] that sweet thief who robs me by being unfaithful.
stain (3): dim.
canker (4): canker-worm, known for choosing sweet plants to devour.
Authorizing...compare (6): sanctioning your sins by these comparisons.
Myself...thy amiss (7): [by] smoothing over (salving) your wrongs I corrupt myself.
To that sweet...from me. (14): Compare Richard Barnfield's sonnet addressed to Cynthia, written in 1595: "There came a thief, and stole my heart/And robbed me of my chiefest part." We cannot be sure which poet's lines were first. Barnfield also wrote a now-famous ode called Address to the Nightingale (1598), which many wrongfully attributed to Shakespeare.
Sonnet 35 reveals a dark side to the relationship between the poet and his young dear friend, likely the Earl of Southampton, Shakespeare's patron. The poet clearly battles self-doubt and insecurity, and he shares the blame with his lover, who has betrayed him. Despite the pain that his lover has inflicted upon him, the poet decides to assume equal guilt in the corruption of their union. He accuses himself of irrationally 'authorizing' his lover's sins, and using a clever conceit of the courtroom, he illustrates that he is at once an accessory to the crime and the victim pressing charges; the prosecutor of his lover and his lover's chief advocate. All of the sonnets are a testament to Shakespeare's sensitivity and sweetness, but none more so than Sonnet 35.
Shakespeare, William. The Sonnets. Ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Cambridge: UP, 1996.
Shakespeare, William. Shakespeare's Sonnets. Ed. A.L. Rowse. London: Macmillan, 1964.
Shakespeare, William. The Works of Shakespeare. Ed. John Dover Wilson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1969.
Smith, Hallett. The Tension of the Lyre. San Marino: Huntington Library, 1981.
Spender, Stephen. The Riddle of Shakespeare's Sonnets. New York: Basic Books, 1962.
Tucker, T.G. The Sonnets of Shakespeare. Cambridge: UP, 1924.
How to Cite this Article
Mabillard, Amanda. An Analysis of Shakespeare's Sonnet 35. Shakespeare Online. 2000. (day/month/year you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/35detail.html >.