This poem takes the reader through some of the details around this seduction and the speaker’s inability to save his friend (and some believe, lover). He expresses his anger and frustration at the situation but in the end, is ultimately resigned to the situation as it is.
‘So now I have confessed that he is thine’ by William Shakespeare is a traditional fourteen-line sonnet. The poem is structured in the form which has come to be synonymous with the poet’s name. It made up of three quatrains, or sets of four lines, and one concluding couplet, or set of two rhyming lines. The poem follows a consistent rhyme scheme that conforms to the pattern of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG and it is written in iambic pentameter. This means that each line contains five sets of two beats, known as metrical feet. The first is unstressed and the second stressed. It sounds something like da-DUM, da-DUM.
As is common in Shakespeare’s poetry, the last two lines are a rhyming pair, known as a couplet. They often bring with them a turn or volta in the poem. They’re sometimes used to answer a question posed in the previous twelve lines, shift the perspective, or even change speakers. In this case, the final two lines summarize everything that has come before them. They are more resigned in tone than the rest of the poem, showing the speaker to have acknowledged and accepted his new lot in life.
Shakespeare makes use of several poetic techniques in ‘So now I have confessed that he is thine’. These include, but are not limited to alliteration, metaphor, and enjambment. The first of these, alliteration, occurs when words are used in succession, or at least appear close together, and begin with the same sound. For example, “my self,” “mortgaged,” “Myself,” and “mine” in the second and third lines. Or, another example later on in the poem, “Him,” “hast,” and “him” in line thirteen.
A metaphor is a comparison between two unlike things that does not use “like” or “as” is also present in the text. When using this technique a poet is saying that one thing is another thing, they aren’t just similar. In the second quatrain, the poet compares the bonds that the speaker and the Fair Youth are trapped into a bad loan, an agreement they were forced to sign. The Dark Lady is the usurer who is forcing them to remain in the deal.
Another important technique commonly used in poetry is enjambment. It occurs when a line is cut off before its natural stopping point. Enjambment forces a reader down to the next line, and the next, quickly. One has to move forward in order to comfortably resolve a phrase or sentence. There are a few examples in this poem, including the transitions between lines three and four and thirteen and fourteen.
So now I have confessed that he is thine,
And I my self am mortgaged to thy will,
Myself I’ll forfeit, so that other mine
Thou wilt restore to be my comfort still:
In the first lines of ‘So now I have confessed that he is thine’ the speaker begins by making use of the line that later came to be used as the title. This sonnet picks up where sonnet 133 left off. The speaker is addressing the Dark Lady, making sense of the fact that she has seduced the Fair Youth about whom so many of Shakespeare’s sonnets are written.
The speaker is clearly angry and frustrated about the situation. In these lines, he expresses his concern for his friend, the Fair Youth, and what is going to befall him while he’s under her sway. He first speaks about himself though. He says that he is “mortgaged to thy will”. Because she controls the Fair Youth she always controls his lover, the speaker. He tells her that he’s willing to give himself up to her if she’ll release the young man from his bonds. This will give him a great deal of comfort.
But thou wilt not, nor he will not be free,
For thou art covetous, and he is kind;
He learned but surety-like to write for me,
Under that bond that him as fast doth bind.
He goes on in the next lines of ‘So now I have confessed that he is thine’ to say that despite his pleading, he knows that she is never going to do what he asks. Unfortunately, to make matters worse, the Fair Youth doesn’t want to be free. He is trapped there with his cruel woman because he is too kind to do anything else. She is the covetous, greedy one and he is at her disposal.
The speaker explains that the Fair Youth only became this woman’s slave because he as trying to help the speaker. He was bailing the speaker out, going with her to save him in some way. This piece of information expands, and Shakespeare uses a metaphor comparing his bonds to a loan as if he’s signed onto something he can’t get out of.
The statute of thy beauty thou wilt take,
Thou usurer, that put’st forth all to use,
And sue a friend came debtor for my sake;
So him I lose through my unkind abuse.
Him have I lost; thou hast both him and me:
He pays the whole, and yet am I not free.
In the first lines of the sestet, the speaker calls the woman a “usurer,” someone who gives out loans. She is taking everything her beauty allows her to, holding back nothing. The tone of these lines is angry, even furious. He accuses her of putting “forth all to use,” or putting out her body for anyone to sleep with. And now, in amongst all these terrible things, she has decided to take his friend. To her “unkind abuse” he lost his friend.
The last two lines of the poem occur after a turn, or shift, in the speaker’s language. Here, he speaks on his resignation to the facts of the situation. He has lost this person into the Dark Lady’s grasp but he too is lost. They are both under her control and the Fair Youth is paying “the whole,” or sleeping with her as she demands. This traps the speaker just as much as it traps his lover.