‘Sonnet 93,’ also known as ‘So shall I live, supposing thou art true,’ is number ninety-three of one hundred fifty-four sonnets that the Bard wrote. Of this series, sonnets 1-126 belong to Shakespeare’s famous Fair Youth sequence. These poems are all devoted, in one way or another, to a young, beautiful man. There has been a great deal of speculation about who this young man could possibly be, but no single identity has ever been decided upon. This particular sonnet picks up where the poet left off in ‘Sonnet 92′ and ‘Sonnet 91’.
Explore Sonnet 93
Summary of Sonnet 93
The speaker talks directly to the Fair Youth throughout this poem. He tells him, once again, how much control he has over him. The speaker knows that the Fair Youth might not be as pure as he seems but the speaker is only able to judge by his face. Because of this, he’s happy. The youth was made by God to appear always sweet and loving. Therefore, the speaker lives as a deceived husband, happily ignorant of anything untrue the youth might engage in.
Structure of Sonnet 93
‘Sonnet 93 ’ by William Shakespeare is a one stanza poem. It contains fourteen lines, as all traditional sonnets do. It is a good example of the English or Shakespearean sonnet. This form requires that the sonnet be made up of three quatrains, or sets of four lines, and one concluding couplet or two rhyming lines of the same length.
The poem follows a consistent rhyme scheme that conforms to the pattern of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG and it is written in iambic pentameter. Iambic pentameter 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.The last two lines 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.
Literary Devices in Sonnet 93
Shakespeare makes use of several poetic techniques in ‘Sonnet 93 ’. These include but are not limited to examples of alliteration, smiles, and caesura. The latter, caesura, occurs when a line is split in half, sometimes with punctuation, sometimes not. The use of punctuation in these moments creates a very intentional pause in the text. A reader should consider how the pause influences the rhythm of one’s reading and how it might precede an important turn or transition in the text. The second line of the poem is a great example. It reads: “Like a deceived husband; so love’s face”.
Alliteration occurs when words are used in succession, or at least appear close together, and begin with the same sound. For instance, “heart’s history” in line seven. A simile is a comparison between two unlike things that uses the words “like” or “as”. A poet uses this kind of figurative language to say that one thing is similar to another, not like metaphor, that it “is” another. There is a good example in the second line of the poem as well as at the end. The latter compares the Fair Youth’s countenance to Eve’s apple, suggesting that there is something less pure and more destructive beneath the surface.
Analysis of Sonnet 93
So shall I live, supposing thou art true,
Like a deceived husband; so love’s face
May still seem love to me, though altered new:
Thy looks with me, thy heart in other place.
In the first lines of ‘Sonnet 93,’ the speaker begins where he left off in ‘Sonnet 92’. He has previously been speaking about the power the Fair Youth has over him. With a single small choice, the youth has the ability to destroy the speaker’s heart. But, the speaker realized in ‘Sonnet 92,’ this doesn’t really matter. The speaker is always going to be happy. He’ll live happily and die happy. This is all due to the fact that he knows he’ll drop dead the moment the Fair Youth does anything to hurt him. He’ll never know pain.
These next fourteen lines add to this. The speaker begins by saying that he’s going to live believing that the youth is “true,” or faithful. He compares himself through a simile to a “deceived husband”. He’ll live in ignorance taking for granted that the look on the youth’s face represents what’s in his heart. The speaker knows this isn’t true but he’s going to go with it.
For there can live no hatred in thine eye,
Therefore in that I cannot know thy change.
In many’s looks, the false heart’s history
Is writ in moods and frowns and wrinkles strange,
The next four lines suggest that the youth’s face could really never have “hatred” on it. He’s so beautiful and pure that his countenance could never be corrupted in that way. The speaker understands the control that the Fair Youth has over him. He says that the youth’s expressions are so lovely that they’d surely never convince him to change his heart. The quatrain concludes with the speaker starting a phrase that describes how most people express their state of mind through “frowns and wrinkles strange”.
But heav’n in thy creation did decree
That in thy face sweet love should ever dwell;
Whate’er thy thoughts or thy heart’s workings be,
Thy looks should nothing thence but sweetness tell.
How like Eve’s apple doth thy beauty grow,
If thy sweet virtue answer not thy show
The third and final quatrain of ‘Sonnet 93’ begins with the speaker saying that God created the Fair Youth in a specula way. He crafted him so that his face would always express “sweet love”. It’s the only expression that “should ever dwell” on the man’s face. This will hold true no matter how the Fair Youth actually feels. It will only “tell” “sweetness”.
In the last lines, the poet uses a simile to compare the Fair Youth’s beauty to “Eve’s apple”. It appears sweet and virtuous but there is a lot more going on underneath.