Sonnet 144: Two loves I have of comfort and despair
BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
Two loves I have of comfort and despair,
Which like two spirits do suggest me still
The better angel is a man right fair,
The worser spirit a woman coloured ill.
To win me soon to hell, my female evil
Tempteth my better angel from my side,
And would corrupt my saint to be a devil,
Wooing his purity with her foul pride.
And, whether that my angel be turn’d fiend,
Suspect I may, yet not directly tell,
But being both from me both to each friend,
I guess one angel in another’s hell.
Yet this shall I ne’er know, but live in doubt,
Till my bad angel fire my good one out.
Thoughts on Sonnet 144
A women colored ill with despair, and a fair young man who comforts, the poet's "two loves." ("The better angel is a man right fair, / The worser spirit a woman, colored ill.")
This love triangle pretends to be detached, but is instead cynical with expected bad results. Selfless adoration and shameful lust battle with each other to find their home in the character of the poet.
How would this poem apply if it was intended to be a female poet who had the two loves? It is just a given that Shakespeare is telling us about a man's two loves.
It pretends that the uncertainty of the relationship between the poet and his two loves is uncertain but the poem evolves to the ending where the lust of the bad angel likely will win.