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That thou hast her it is not all my grief,
And yet it may be said I loved her dearly;
That she hath thee is of my wailing chief,
A loss in love that touches me more nearly.
Loving offenders, thus I will excuse ye:
Thou dost love her because thou knowst I love her;
And for my sake even so doth she abuse me,
Suff'ring my friend for my sake to approve her.
If I lose thee, my loss is my love’s gain,
And losing her, my friend hath found that loss;
Both find each other, and I lose both twain,
And both for my sake lay on me this cross.
  But here’s the joy; my friend and I are one;
  Sweet flatt'ry! Then she loves but me alone.
The fact that you now have my mistress isn’t the only reason I’m hurt, though it’s true that I loved her dearly. What makes me cry the most is that now she has you, a loss of love that hurts me even more. You two criminals in love, here’s how I’ll rationalize the pain you’ve caused me: You, friend, love her because you know I love her. And she loves you for the exact same reason, putting up with your praises and lovemaking for my sake, because she knows you’re my friend. If I lose you, it’s a win for my mistress. And if I lose her, you will have found what I’ve lost. Both of the people I love find each other, and I lose them both, and both cause me this pain. But here’s what makes me happy: My friend and I are one person. How gratifying!—It turns out my mistress loves only me.

Popular pages: Shakespeare’s Sonnets