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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

    CI.

    O TRUANT Muse, what shall be thy amends
    For thy neglect of truth in beauty dyed?
    Both truth and beauty on my love depends;
    So dost thou too, and therein dignified.
    Make answer, Muse: wilt thou not haply say
    'Truth needs no colour, with his colour fix'd;
    Beauty no pencil, beauty's truth to lay;
    But best is best, if never intermix'd?'
    Because he needs no praise, wilt thou be dumb?
    Excuse not silence so; for't lies in thee
    To make him much outlive a gilded tomb,
    And to be praised of ages yet to be.
    Then do thy office, Muse; I teach thee how
    To make him seem long hence as he shows now.

    CII.

    MY love is strengthen'd, though more weak in seeming;
    I love not less, though less the show appear:
    That love is merchandized whose rich esteeming
    The owner's tongue doth publish every where.
    Our love was new and then but in the spring
    When I was wont to greet it with my lays,
    As Philomel in summer's front doth sing
    And stops her pipe in growth of riper days:
    Not that the summer is less pleasant now
    Than when her mournful hymns did hush the night,
    But that wild music burthens every bough
    And sweets grown common lose their dear delight.
    Therefore like her I sometime hold my tongue,
    Because I would not dull you with my song.

    CIII.

    ALACK, what poverty my Muse brings forth,
    That having such a scope to show her pride,
    The argument all bare is of more worth
    Than when it hath my added praise beside!
    O, blame me not, if I no more can write!
    Look in your glass, and there appears a face
    That over-goes my blunt invention quite,
    Dulling my lines and doing me disgrace.
    Were it not sinful then, striving to mend,
    To mar the subject that before was well?
    For to no other pass my verses tend
    Than of your graces and your gifts to tell;
    And more, much more, than in my verse can sit
    Your own glass shows you when you look in it.

    CIV.

    TO me, fair friend, you never can be old,
    For as you were when first your eye I eyed,
    Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold
    Have from the forests shook three summers' pride,
    Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turn'd
    In process of the seasons have I seen,
    Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burn'd,
    Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green.
    Ah! yet doth beauty, like a dial-hand,
    Steal from his figure and no pace perceived;
    So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand,
    Hath motion and mine eye may be deceived:
    For fear of which, hear this, thou age unbred;
    Ere you were born was beauty's summer dead.

    CV.

    LET not my love be call'd idolatry,
    Nor my beloved as an idol show,
    Since all alike my songs and praises be
    To one, of one, still such, and ever so.
    Kind is my love to-day, to-morrow kind,
    Still constant in a wondrous excellence;
    Therefore my verse to constancy confined,
    One thing expressing, leaves out difference.
    'Fair, kind and true' is all my argument,
    'Fair, kind, and true' varying to other words;
    And in this change is my invention spent,
    Three themes in one, which wondrous scope affords.
    'Fair, kind, and true,' have often lived alone,
    Which three till now never kept seat in one.

    CVI.

    WHEN in the chronicle of wasted time
    I see descriptions of the fairest wights,
    And beauty making beautiful old rhyme
    In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights,
    Then, in the blazon of sweet beauty's best,
    Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow,
    I see their antique pen would have express'd
    Even such a beauty as you master now.
    So all their praises are but prophecies
    Of this our time, all you prefiguring;
    And, for they look'd but with divining eyes,
    They had not skill enough your worth to sing:
    For we, which now behold these present days,
    Had eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise.

    CVII.

    NOT mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul
    Of the wide world dreaming on things to come,
    Can yet the lease of my true love control,
    Supposed as forfeit to a confined doom.
    The mortal moon hath her eclipse endured
    And the sad augurs mock their own presage;
    Incertainties now crown themselves assured
    And peace proclaims olives of endless age.
    Now with the drops of this most balmy time
    My love looks fresh, and death to me subscribes,
    Since, spite of him, I'll live in this poor rhyme,
    While he insults o'er dull and speechless tribes:
    And thou in this shalt find thy monument,
    When tyrants' crests and tombs of brass are spent.

    CVIII.

    WHAT'S in the brain that ink may character
    Which hath not figured to thee my true spirit?
    What's new to speak, what new to register,
    That may express my love or thy dear merit?
    Nothing, sweet boy; but yet, like prayers divine,
    I must, each day say o'er the very same,
    Counting no old thing old, thou mine, I thine,
    Even as when first I hallow'd thy fair name.
    So that eternal love in love's fresh case
    Weighs not the dust and injury of age,
    Nor gives to necessary wrinkles place,
    But makes antiquity for aye his page,
    Finding the first conceit of love there bred
    Where time and outward form would show it dead.

    CIX.

    O, NEVER say that I was false of heart,
    Though absence seem'd my flame to qualify.
    As easy might I from myself depart
    As from my soul, which in thy breast doth lie:
    That is my home of love: if I have ranged,
    Like him that travels I return again,
    Just to the time, not with the time exchanged,
    So that myself bring water for my stain.
    Never believe, though in my nature reign'd
    All frailties that besiege all kinds of blood,
    That it could so preposterously be stain'd,
    To leave for nothing all thy sum of good;
    For nothing this wide universe I call,
    Save thou, my rose; in it thou art my all.

    CX.

    ALAS, 'tis true I have gone here and there
    And made myself a motley to the view,
    Gored mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear,
    Made old offences of affections new;
    Most true it is that I have look'd on truth
    Askance and strangely: but, by all above,
    These blenches gave my heart another youth,
    And worse essays proved thee my best of love.
    Now all is done, have what shall have no end:
    Mine appetite I never more will grind
    On newer proof, to try an older friend,
    A god in love, to whom I am confined.
    Then give me welcome, next my heaven the best,
    Even to thy pure and most most loving breast.

    CXI.

    O, FOR my sake do you with Fortune chide,
    The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds,
    That did not better for my life provide
    Than public means which public manners breeds.
    Thence comes it that my name receives a brand,
    And almost thence my nature is subdued
    To what it works in, like the dyer's hand:
    Pity me then and wish I were renew'd;
    Whilst, like a willing patient, I will drink
    Potions of eisel 'gainst my strong infection
    No bitterness that I will bitter think,
    Nor double penance, to correct correction.
    Pity me then, dear friend, and I assure ye
    Even that your pity is enough to cure me.

    CXII.

    YOUR love and pity doth the impression fill
    Which vulgar scandal stamp'd upon my brow;
    For what care I who calls me well or ill,
    So you o'er-green my bad, my good allow?
    You are my all the world, and I must strive
    To know my shames and praises from your tongue:
    None else to me, nor I to none alive,
    That my steel'd sense or changes right or wrong.
    In so profound abysm I throw all care
    Of others' voices, that my adder's sense
    To critic and to flatterer stopped are.
    Mark how with my neglect I do dispense:
    You are so strongly in my purpose bred
    That all the world besides methinks are dead.

    CXIII.

    SINCE I left you, mine eye is in my mind;
    And that which governs me to go about
    Doth part his function and is partly blind,
    Seems seeing, but effectually is out;
    For it no form delivers to the heart
    Of bird of flower, or shape, which it doth latch:
    Of his quick objects hath the mind no part,
    Nor his own vision holds what it doth catch:
    For if it see the rudest or gentlest sight,
    The most sweet favour or deformed'st creature,
    The mountain or the sea, the day or night,
    The crow or dove, it shapes them to your feature:
    Incapable of more, replete with you,
    My most true mind thus makes mine eye untrue.

    CXIV.

    OR whether doth my mind, being crown'd with you,
    Drink up the monarch's plague, this flattery?
    Or whether shall I say, mine eye saith true,
    And that your love taught it this alchemy,
    To make of monsters and things indigest
    Such cherubins as your sweet self resemble,
    Creating every bad a perfect best,
    As fast as objects to his beams assemble?
    O,'tis the first; 'tis flattery in my seeing,
    And my great mind most kingly drinks it up:
    Mine eye well knows what with his gust is 'greeing,
    And to his palate doth prepare the cup:
    If it be poison'd, 'tis the lesser sin
    That mine eye loves it and doth first begin.

    CXV.

    THOSE lines that I before have writ do lie,
    Even those that said I could not love you dearer:
    Yet then my judgment knew no reason why
    My most full flame should afterwards burn clearer.
    But reckoning time, whose million'd accidents
    Creep in 'twixt vows and change decrees of kings,
    Tan sacred beauty, blunt the sharp'st intents,
    Divert strong minds to the course of altering things;
    Alas, why, fearing of time's tyranny,
    Might I not then say 'Now I love you best,'
    When I was certain o'er incertainty,
    Crowning the present, doubting of the rest?
    Love is a babe; then might I not say so,
    To give full growth to that which still doth grow?

    CXVI.

    LET me not to the marriage of true minds
    Admit impediments. Love is not love
    Which alters when it alteration finds,
    Or bends with the remover to remove:
    O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
    That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
    It is the star to every wandering bark,
    Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
    Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
    Within his bending sickle's compass come:
    Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
    But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
    If this be error and upon me proved,
    I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

    CXVII.

    ACCUSE me thus: that I have scanted all
    Wherein I should your great deserts repay,
    Forgot upon your dearest love to call,
    Whereto all bonds do tie me day by day;
    That I have frequent been with unknown minds
    And given to time your own dear-purchased right
    That I have hoisted sail to all the winds
    Which should transport me farthest from your sight.
    Book both my wilfulness and errors down
    And on just proof surmise accumulate;
    Bring me within the level of your frown,
    But shoot not at me in your waken'd hate;
    Since my appeal says I did strive to prove
    The constancy and virtue of your love.

    CXVIII.

    LIKE as, to make our appetites more keen,
    With eager compounds we our palate urge,
    As, to prevent our maladies unseen,
    We sicken to shun sickness when we purge,
    Even so, being tuff of your ne'er-cloying sweetness,
    To bitter sauces did I frame my feeding
    And, sick of welfare, found a kind of meetness
    To be diseased ere that there was true needing.
    Thus policy in love, to anticipate
    The ills that were not, grew to faults assured
    And brought to medicine a healthful state
    Which, rank of goodness, would by ill be cured:
    But thence I learn, and find the lesson true,
    Drugs poison him that so fell sick of you.

    CXIX.

    WHAT potions have I drunk of Siren tears,
    Distill'd from limbecks foul as hell within,
    Applying fears to hopes and hopes to fears,
    Still losing when I saw myself to win!
    What wretched errors hath my heart committed,
    Whilst it hath thought itself so blessed never!
    How have mine eyes out of their spheres been fitted
    In the distraction of this madding fever!
    O benefit of ill! now I find true
    That better is by evil still made better;
    And ruin'd love, when it is built anew,
    Grows fairer than at first, more strong, far greater.
    So I return rebuked to my content
    And gain by ill thrice more than I have spent.

    CXX.

    THAT you were once unkind befriends me now,
    And for that sorrow which I then did feel
    Needs must I under my transgression bow,
    Unless my nerves were brass or hammer'd steel.
    For if you were by my unkindness shaken
    As I by yours, you've pass'd a hell of time,
    And I, a tyrant, have no leisure taken
    To weigh how once I suffered in your crime.
    O, that our night of woe might have remember'd
    My deepest sense, how hard true sorrow hits,
    And soon to you, as you to me, then tender'd
    The humble slave which wounded bosoms fits!
    But that your trespass now becomes a fee;
    Mine ransoms yours, and yours must ransom me.


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