The Will of Will

Jade Knox


In the “dark lady” sonnets, there is one poem that stands out to me: number 135. In this poem we see William Shakespeare makes a play on his own name. The poem speaks on the will of the lady, which could address the desire the woman has either for riches or other pleasures, although it seems to specifically address her appetite for men. This seems to be the case as the poet makes a play between will and “Will,” his own name. He asks the lady to add his will to her will, as a sea adds to its water from rain.

Shakespeare also seems to think of this lady as more strong than he is, if we are to assume he was playing with the double meanings of the word “will” in this poem. He asks her if she, someone with such large will, would not hold his will within hers. Perhaps this means that he would like her to protect his heart from her other lovers, that she should hold him dearest out of all of them because he is the most fragile. Indeed he asks her if, compared to others’ wills, if his is good enough.

In sonnet 135, Shakespeare seems to be both looking up to the dark lady and looking down on himself. He wishes that he was her only “Will” and is asking to think of him as such while still knowing she has other lovers.


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