Shakespeare is not known for being effervescent in his piety, but there are a few sonnets that reveal something of the undercurrent of his faith. Sonnet 146 is a great example. Christ once said: "What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?" This seems the preoccupying thought of the Bard in this sonnet.
There are so many vivid images in this poem that it's difficult to know where to begin. There are the "rebel powers" that are against him, echoing the language of S Paul. There is the image of him being a building, which is painted outwardly "so costly gay." And the big question when he contemplates his mortality: "Why so large cost, having so short a lease, Dost thou upon thy fading mansion spend? "
Then, with all sonnets, there is the shift. In the nineth line he calls himself to repentance.
by William Shakespeare
Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth,
These rebel powers that thee array;
Why dost thou pine within and suffer dearth,
Painting thy outward walls so costly gay?
Why so large cost, having so short a lease,
Dost thou upon thy fading mansion spend?
Shall worms, inheritors of this excess,
Eat up thy charge? is this thy body's end?
Then soul, live thou upon thy servant's loss,
And let that pine to aggravate thy store;
Buy terms divine in selling hours of dross;
Within be fed, without be rich no more:
So shalt thou feed on Death, that feeds on men,
And Death once dead, there's no more dying then.