There are a few things I don't quite get in this poem.

What is the "false plague"? And what "bay"?

And what does this mean?
Why should my heart think that a several plot
Which my heart knows the wide world's common place?



Thou blind fool, Love, what dost thou to mine eyes,
That they behold, and see not what they see?
They know what beauty is, see where it lies,
Yet what the best is take the worst to be.
If eyes corrupt by over-partial looks
Be anchor'd in the bay where all men ride,
Why of eyes' falsehood hast thou forged hooks,
Whereto the judgment of my heart is tied?
Why should my heart think that a several plot
Which my heart knows the wide world's common place?
Or mine eyes seeing this, say this is not,
To put fair truth upon so foul a face?
In things right true my heart and eyes have erred,
And to this false plague are they now transferr'd.
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" the bay where all men ride" and "the wide world's common place"

Not very flattering, I'm afraid! He is referring to the woman to whom the poem is addressed as little more than a prostitute, who gives her favours to any man indiscriminately!

"this false plague"- again an unflattering reference to the woman. he once regarded her as beautiful, but now sees that she is in fact a foul person, unworthy of his love.
Thanks. So what exactly is "bay"? Is it a figure of speech? Is plague also a figure of speech?

Does the common place mean a brothel?

What is "a several plot"?

Hate to bug people like that, but I want to understand all the details, especially when I read poems.

If the content is lewd, then feel free to email me.Emotion: embarrassed
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No Julie, the content isn't lewd, just highly rude and unflattering to the woman.

A bay is a part of the coastline where the land curves and the sea is surrounded by land on three sides. They are usually sheltered, and make good harbours.

"in the bay where all men ride"

Basically, he means that this woman will take any man to her bed.

"a several plot" - a particular or separate area (use your imagination here)

"the wide world's common place"

Sorry, I should have explained this better. "A common" in England is a piece of land where any person can graze their cattle and livestock, keep ducks, geese etc. It dates back hundreds of years, and although there are still many commons, it is now generally accepted that people don't keep livestock on them (particularly because they are usually in the middle of a town) but they are free to walk on them at will.

So again Shakespear is refering to the woman as a place where any man may go!

The plague: Shakespear is refering to the bubonic and pneumonic plagues which killed thousands of people. So another insult - this woman is like some unpleasant contagious disease which his eyes caught, because he once thought her beautiful. Now he sees she's nothing but a ***. (a woman who has sexual relationships with a lot of men) [very infomal term - not for polite use!] Emotion: rolleyes
Thank you Abbie!

PS You sure you don't have a "Dear Abbie" column on the Internet? Emotion: big smile
No - would I get paid for it?? Emotion: wink
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Don't know. Depends on how juicy the conent is? Emotion: smile

PS I'm no good with poetry. Thanks.
Hi abbie1948,

Don't you think here Shakespear used 'several plots' as a navigation term, considreing he had already used the words bay, hooks, and anchor?
Interesting thought - the nautical allusions. In fact he says "A several plot" . Trying to work out how the nautical use would fit with "the world's common place" , if by 'plot' you mean to plan a course for sailing.
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