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The Sonnets of William Shakespeare

1 - 20 | 21 - 40 | 41 - 60 | 61 - 80 | 81 - 100 | 101 - 120 | 121 - 140 | 140 - 154

    XLI.

    THOSE petty wrongs that liberty commits,
    When I am sometime absent from thy heart,
    Thy beauty and thy years full well befits,
    For still temptation follows where thou art.
    Gentle thou art and therefore to be won,
    Beauteous thou art, therefore to be assailed;
    And when a woman woos, what woman's son
    Will sourly leave her till she have prevailed?
    Ay me! but yet thou mightest my seat forbear,
    And chide try beauty and thy straying youth,
    Who lead thee in their riot even there
    Where thou art forced to break a twofold truth,
    Hers by thy beauty tempting her to thee,
    Thine, by thy beauty being false to me.

    XLII.

    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,
    Suffering 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 flattery! then she loves but me alone.

    XLIII.

    WHEN most I wink, then do mine eyes best see,
    For all the day they view things unrespected;
    But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,
    And darkly bright are bright in dark directed.
    Then thou, whose shadow shadows doth make bright,
    How would thy shadow's form form happy show
    To the clear day with thy much clearer light,
    When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so!
    How would, I say, mine eyes be blessed made
    By looking on thee in the living day,
    When in dead night thy fair imperfect shade
    Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth stay!
    All days are nights to see till I see thee,
    And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.

    XLIV.

    IF the dull substance of my flesh were thought,
    Injurious distance should not stop my way;
    For then despite of space I would be brought,
    From limits far remote where thou dost stay.
    No matter then although my foot did stand
    Upon the farthest earth removed from thee;
    For nimble thought can jump both sea and land
    As soon as think the place where he would be.
    But ah! thought kills me that I am not thought,
    To leap large lengths of miles when thou art gone,
    But that so much of earth and water wrought
    I must attend time's leisure with my moan,
    Receiving nought by elements so slow
    But heavy tears, badges of either's woe.

    XLV.

    THE other two, slight air and purging fire,
    Are both with thee, wherever I abide;
    The first my thought, the other my desire,
    These present-absent with swift motion slide.
    For when these quicker elements are gone
    In tender embassy of love to thee,
    My life, being made of four, with two alone
    Sinks down to death, oppress'd with melancholy;
    Until life's composition be recured
    By those swift messengers return'd from thee,
    Who even but now come back again, assured
    Of thy fair health, recounting it to me:
    This told, I joy; but then no longer glad,
    I send them back again and straight grow sad.

    XLVI.

    MINE eye and heart are at a mortal war
    How to divide the conquest of thy sight;
    Mine eye my heart thy picture's sight would bar,
    My heart mine eye the freedom of that right.
    My heart doth plead that thou in him dost lie--
    A closet never pierced with crystal eyes--
    But the defendant doth that plea deny
    And says in him thy fair appearance lies.
    To 'cide this title is impanneled
    A quest of thoughts, all tenants to the heart,
    And by their verdict is determined
    The clear eye's moiety and the dear heart's part:
    As thus; mine eye's due is thy outward part,
    And my heart's right thy inward love of heart.

    XLVII.

    BETWIXT mine eye and heart a league is took,
    And each doth good turns now unto the other:
    When that mine eye is famish'd for a look,
    Or heart in love with sighs himself doth smother,
    With my love's picture then my eye doth feast
    And to the painted banquet bids my heart;
    Another time mine eye is my heart's guest
    And in his thoughts of love doth share a part:
    So, either by thy picture or my love,
    Thyself away art resent still with me;
    For thou not farther than my thoughts canst move,
    And I am still with them and they with thee;
    Or, if they sleep, thy picture in my sight
    Awakes my heart to heart's and eye's delight.

    XLVIII.

    HOW careful was I, when I took my way,
    Each trifle under truest bars to thrust,
    That to my use it might unused stay
    From hands of falsehood, in sure wards of trust!
    But thou, to whom my jewels trifles are,
    Most worthy of comfort, now my greatest grief,
    Thou, best of dearest and mine only care,
    Art left the prey of every vulgar thief.
    Thee have I not lock'd up in any chest,
    Save where thou art not, though I feel thou art,
    Within the gentle closure of my breast,
    From whence at pleasure thou mayst come and part;
    And even thence thou wilt be stol'n, I fear,
    For truth proves thievish for a prize so dear.

    XLIX.

    AGAINST that time, if ever that time come,
    When I shall see thee frown on my defects,
    When as thy love hath cast his utmost sum,
    Call'd to that audit by advised respects;
    Against that time when thou shalt strangely pass
    And scarcely greet me with that sun thine eye,
    When love, converted from the thing it was,
    Shall reasons find of settled gravity,--
    Against that time do I ensconce me here
    Within the knowledge of mine own desert,
    And this my hand against myself uprear,
    To guard the lawful reasons on thy part:
    To leave poor me thou hast the strength of laws,
    Since why to love I can allege no cause.

    L.

    HOW heavy do I journey on the way,
    When what I seek, my weary travel's end,
    Doth teach that ease and that repose to say
    'Thus far the miles are measured from thy friend!'
    The beast that bears me, tired with my woe,
    Plods dully on, to bear that weight in me,
    As if by some instinct the wretch did know
    His rider loved not speed, being made from thee:
    The bloody spur cannot provoke him on
    That sometimes anger thrusts into his hide;
    Which heavily he answers with a groan,
    More sharp to me than spurring to his side;
    For that same groan doth put this in my mind;
    My grief lies onward and my joy behind.

    LI.

    THUS can my love excuse the slow offence
    Of my dull bearer when from thee I speed:
    From where thou art why should I haste me thence?
    Till I return, of posting is no need.
    O, what excuse will my poor beast then find,
    When swift extremity can seem but slow?
    Then should I spur, though mounted on the wind;
    In winged speed no motion shall I know:
    Then can no horse with my desire keep pace;
    Therefore desire of perfect'st love being made,
    Shall neigh--no dull flesh--in his fiery race;
    But love, for love, thus shall excuse my jade;
    Since from thee going he went wilful-slow,
    Towards thee I'll run, and give him leave to go.

    LII.

    SO am I as the rich, whose blessed key
    Can bring him to his sweet up-locked treasure,
    The which he will not every hour survey,
    For blunting the fine point of seldom pleasure.
    Therefore are feasts so solemn and so rare,
    Since, seldom coming, in the long year set,
    Like stones of worth they thinly placed are,
    Or captain jewels in the carcanet.
    So is the time that keeps you as my chest,
    Or as the wardrobe which the robe doth hide,
    To make some special instant special blest,
    By new unfolding his imprison'd pride.
    Blessed are you, whose worthiness gives scope,
    Being had, to triumph, being lack'd, to hope.

    LIII.

    WHAT is your substance, whereof are you made,
    That millions of strange shadows on you tend?
    Since every one hath, every one, one shade,
    And you, but one, can every shadow lend.
    Describe Adonis, and the counterfeit
    Is poorly imitated after you;
    On Helen's cheek all art of beauty set,
    And you in Grecian tires are painted new:
    Speak of the spring and foison of the year;
    The one doth shadow of your beauty show,
    The other as your bounty doth appear;
    And you in every blessed shape we know.
    In all external grace you have some part,
    But you like none, none you, for constant heart.

    LIV.

    O, HOW much more doth beauty beauteous seem
    By that sweet ornament which truth doth give!
    The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem
    For that sweet odour which doth in it live.
    The canker-blooms have full as deep a dye
    As the perfumed tincture of the roses,
    Hang on such thorns and play as wantonly
    When summer's breath their masked buds discloses:
    But, for their virtue only is their show,
    They live unwoo'd and unrespected fade,
    Die to themselves. Sweet roses do not so;
    Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odours made:
    And so of you, beauteous and lovely youth,
    When that shall fade, my verse distills your truth.

    LV.

    NOT marble, nor the gilded monuments
    Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
    But you shall shine more bright in these contents
    Than unswept stone besmear'd with sluttish time.
    When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
    And broils root out the work of masonry,
    Nor Mars his sword nor war's quick fire shall burn
    The living record of your memory.
    'Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity
    Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room
    Even in the eyes of all posterity
    That wear this world out to the ending doom.
    So, till the judgment that yourself arise,
    You live in this, and dwell in lover's eyes.

    LVI.

    SWEET love, renew thy force; be it not said
    Thy edge should blunter be than appetite,
    Which but to-day by feeding is allay'd,
    To-morrow sharpen'd in his former might:
    So, love, be thou; although to-day thou fill
    Thy hungry eyes even till they wink with fullness,
    To-morrow see again, and do not kill
    The spirit of love with a perpetual dullness.
    Let this sad interim like the ocean be
    Which parts the shore, where two contracted new
    Come daily to the banks, that, when they see
    Return of love, more blest may be the view;
    Else call it winter, which being full of care
    Makes summer's welcome thrice more wish'd, more rare.

    LVII.

    BEING your slave, what should I do but tend
    Upon the hours and times of your desire?
    I have no precious time at all to spend,
    Nor services to do, till you require.
    Nor dare I chide the world-without-end hour
    Whilst I, my sovereign, watch the clock for you,
    Nor think the bitterness of absence sour
    When you have bid your servant once adieu;
    Nor dare I question with my jealous thought
    Where you may be, or your affairs suppose,
    But, like a sad slave, stay and think of nought
    Save, where you are how happy you make those.
    So true a fool is love that in your will,
    Though you do any thing, he thinks no ill.

    LVIII.

    THAT god forbid that made me first your slave,
    I should in thought control your times of pleasure,
    Or at your hand the account of hours to crave,
    Being your vassal, bound to stay your leisure!
    O, let me suffer, being at your beck,
    The imprison'd absence of your liberty;
    And patience, tame to sufferance, bide each cheque,
    Without accusing you of injury.
    Be where you list, your charter is so strong
    That you yourself may privilege your time
    To what you will; to you it doth belong
    Yourself to pardon of self-doing crime.
    I am to wait, though waiting so be hell;
    Not blame your pleasure, be it ill or well.

    LIX.

    IF there be nothing new, but that which is
    Hath been before, how are our brains beguiled,
    Which, labouring for invention, bear amiss
    The second burden of a former child!
    O, that record could with a backward look,
    Even of five hundred courses of the sun,
    Show me your image in some antique book,
    Since mind at first in character was done!
    That I might see what the old world could say
    To this composed wonder of your frame;
    Whether we are mended, or whether better they,
    Or whether revolution be the same.
    O, sure I am, the wits of former days
    To subjects worse have given admiring praise.

    LX.

    LIKE as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
    So do our minutes hasten to their end;
    Each changing place with that which goes before,
    In sequent toil all forwards do contend.
    Nativity, once in the main of light,
    Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown'd,
    Crooked elipses 'gainst his glory fight,
    And Time that gave doth now his gift confound.
    Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth
    And delves the parallels in beauty's brow,
    Feeds on the rarities of nature's truth,
    And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow:
    And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand,
    Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.


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