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Jonathan Richards London / United Kingdom, Male, 50
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6/9/2009 6:10:00 AM

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    • POEM: Sonnet 138: When My Love Swears That She Is Made Of Truth by William Shakespeare (6/9/2009 6:09:00 AM)

      Did you really think that we in the 21st century were the first to invent a little bit of artistic licence about our age or our tendency to 'cheat'? Of course not, says Shakespeare. Lying is part of love, an established social convention.

      Men and women don't lie to each other because they are wicked but because it is just nicer that way. Would you like it if your lover admitted that, quite frankly, he is a bit over the hill? How would you feel if she said that, put bluntly, if she sees a better looking specimen on offer at the Roxy on Friday night she will probably hook up with him? Of course you wouldn't like it. Much better to play along with a more pleasant sounding lie although, of course, both parties know the truth of the matter.

      The tone of the poem is breezy and light-hearted and words of contrast neatly bring out the double-dealing that is going on. In the first couplet we have a neat contrast between 'swears' and 'truth', between 'believe' and 'lies'. In fact, Shakespeare even lies to us: he doesn't 'believe her' at all because he knows she is lying. This is a poem of wit and verbal ingenuity that has its tongue firmly in its cheek and finishes off with a lovely image of contented lovers lying with each other while busy lying to each other. A lot of fun.