In Shakespeare's English
Lord of my love, to whom in vassalage
Thy merit hath my duty strongly knit,
To thee I send this written ambassage,
To witness duty, not to show my wit:
Duty so great, which wit so poor as mine
May make seem bare, in wanting words to show it,
But that I hope some good conceit of thine
In thy soul's thought, all naked, will bestow it;
Till whatsoever star that guides my moving
Points on me graciously with fair aspect,
And puts apparel on my tatter'd loving,
To show me worthy of thy sweet respect:
Then may I dare to boast how I do love thee;
Till then not show my head where thou mayst prove me.
Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
The dear repose for limbs with travel tir'd;
But then begins a journey in my head
To work my mind, when body's work's expir'd:
For then my thoughts, from far where I abide,
Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,
Looking on darkness which the blind do see:
Save that my soul's imaginary sight
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous and her old face new.
Lo, thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind,
For thee, and for myself no quiet find.
How can I then return in happy plight,
That am debarr'd the benefit of rest?
When day's oppression is not eas'd by night,
But day by night, and night by day oppress'd,
And each, though enemies to either's reign,
Do in consent shake hands to torture me,
The one by toil, the other to complain
How far I toil, still further off from thee?
I tell the day, to please him thou art bright
And dost him grace when clouds do blot the heaven:
So flatter I the swart-complexion'd night;
When sparkling stars twire not thou gild'st the even.
But day doth daily draw my sorrows longer,
And night doth nightly make griefs strength seem strong.
When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear times' waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unus'd to flow,
For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,
And weep afresh love's long since cancell'd woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanish'd sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restor'd and sorrows end.
Thy bosom is endeared with all hearts,
Which I by lacking have supposed dead;
And there reigns Love, and all Love's loving parts,
And all those friends which I thought buried.
How many a holy and obsequious tear
Hath dear religious love stol'n from mine eye,
As interest of the dead, which now appear
But things remov'd that hidden in thee lie!
Thou art the grave where buried love doth live,
Hung with the trophies of my lovers gone,
Who all their parts of me to thee did give,
That due of many now is thine alone:
Their images I lov'd I view in thee,
And thou—all they—hast all the all of me.
If thou survive my well-contented day,
When that churl Death my bones with dust shall cover,
And shalt by fortune once more re-survey
These poor rude lines of thy deceased lover,
Compare them with the bettering of the time,
And though they be outstripp'd by every pen,
Reserve them for my love, not for their rime,
Exceeded by the height of happier men.
O! then vouchsafe me but this loving thought:
'Had my friend's Muse grown with this growing age,
A dearer birth than this his love had brought,
To march in ranks of better equipage:
But since he died, and poets better prove,
Theirs for their style I'll read, his for his love.'
Full many a glorious morning have I seen
Flatter the mountain-tops with sovereign eye,
Kissing with golden face the meadows green,
Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchymy;
Anon permit the basest clouds to ride
With ugly rack on his celestial face,
And from the forlorn world his visage hide,
Stealing unseen to west with this disgrace:
Even so my sun one early morn did shine,
With all-triumphant splendour on my brow;
But, out! alack! he was but one hour mine,
The region cloud hath mask'd him from me now.
Yet him for this my love no whit disdaineth;
Suns of the world may stain when heaven's sun staineth.
Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day,
And make me travel forth without my cloak,
To let base clouds o'ertake me in my way,
Hiding thy bravery in their rotten smoke?
'Tis not enough that through the cloud thou break,
To dry the rain on my storm-beaten face,
For no man well of such a salve can speak
That heals the wound and cures not the disgrace:
Nor can thy shame give physic to my grief;
Though thou repent, yet I have still the loss:
The offender's sorrow lends but weak relief
To him that bears the strong offence's cross.
Ah! but those tears are pearl which thy love sheds,
And they are rich and ransom all ill deeds.
No more be griev'd at that which thou hast done:
Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud;
Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.
All men make faults, and even I in this,
Authorising thy trespass with compare,
Myself corrupting, salving thy amiss,
Excusing thy sins more than thy sins are;
For to thy sensual fault I bring in sense,—
Thy adverse party is thy advocate,—
And 'gainst myself a lawful plea commence:
Such civil war is in my love and hate,
That I an accessary needs must be
To that sweet thief which sourly robs from me.
Let me confess that we two must be twain,
Although our undivided loves are one:
So shall those blots that do with me remain,
Without thy help, by me be borne alone.
In our two loves there is but one respect,
Though in our lives a separable spite,
Which, though it alter not love's sole effect,
Yet doth it steal sweet hours from love's delight.
I may not evermore acknowledge thee,
Lest my bewailed guilt should do thee shame,
Nor thou with public kindness honour me,
Unless thou take that honour from thy name:
But do not so; I love thee in such sort
As, thou being mine, mine is thy good report.
As a decrepit father takes delight
To see his active child do deeds of youth,
So I, made lame by fortune's dearest spite,
Take all my comfort of thy worth and truth;
For whether beauty, birth, or wealth, or wit,
Or any of these all, or all, or more,
Entitled in thy parts do crowned sit,
I make my love engrafted to this store:
So then I am not lame, poor, nor despis'd,
Whilst that this shadow doth such substance give
That I in thy abundance am suffic'd
And by a part of all thy glory live.
Look what is best, that best I wish in thee:
This wish I have; then ten times happy me!
How can my Muse want subject to invent,
While thou dost breathe, that pour'st into my verse
Thine own sweet argument, too excellent
For every vulgar paper to rehearse?
O! give thyself the thanks, if aught in me
Worthy perusal stand against thy sight;
For who's so dumb that cannot write to thee,
When thou thyself dost give invention light?
Be thou the tenth Muse, ten times more in worth
Than those old nine which rimers invocate;
And he that calls on thee, let him bring forth
Eternal numbers to outlive long date.
If my slight Muse do please these curious days,
The pain be mine, but thine shall be the praise.
O! how thy worth with manners may I sing,
When thou art all the better part of me?
What can mine own praise to mine own self bring?
And what is't but mine own when I praise thee?
Even for this let us divided live,
And our dear love lose name of single one,
That by this separation I may give
That due to thee, which thou deserv'st alone.
O absence! what a torment wouldst thou prove,
Were it not thy sour leisure gave sweet leave
To entertain the time with thoughts of love,
Which time and thoughts so sweetly doth deceive,
And that thou teachest how to make one twain,
By praising him here who doth hence remain.
Take all my loves, my love, yea, take them all;
What hast thou then more than thou hadst before?
No love, my love, that thou mayst true love call;
All mine was thine before thou hadst this more
Then, if for my love thou my love receivest,
I cannot blame thee for my love thou usest;
But yet be blam'd, if thou thyself deceivest
By wilful taste of what thyself refusest.
I do forgive thy robbery, gentle thief,
Although thou steal thee all my poverty;
And yet, love knows it is a greater grief
To bear love's wrong than hate's known injury.
Lascivious grace, in whom all ill well shows,
Kill me with spites; yet we must not be foes.
Those pretty wrongs that liberty commits,
When I am sometimes 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 assail'd;
And when a woman woos, what woman's son
Will sourly leave her till she have prevail'd?
Ay me! but yet thou mightst my seat forbear,
And chide thy beauty and thy straying youth,
Who lead thee in their riot even there
Where thou art forc'd to break a twofold truth;—
Hers, by thy beauty tempting her to thee,
Thine, by thy beauty being false to me.
That thou hast her, it is not all my grief,
And yet it may be said I lov'd 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 know'st 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.
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.
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 furthest earth remov'd 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.
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 recur'd
By those sweet messengers return'd from thee,
Who even but now come back again, assur'd
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.
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 pierc'd with crystal eyes,
But the defendant doth that plea deny,
And says in him thy fair appearance lies.
To 'cide this title is impannelled
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 thine outward part,
And my heart's right thine inward love of heart.
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 present still with me;
For thou not further 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.
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 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.
Against that time, if ever that time come,
When I shall see thee frown on my defects,
Whenas thy love hath cast his utmost sum,
Call'd to that audit by advis'd 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.
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 measur'd 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 lov'd 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.
In Plain English
Lord of my love, to whom in servitude
Your worth has my duty securely bound,
To you I send this written message,
To show my devotion, not to show my writing skills--
It is a great duty, and skills as poor as mine
May make my obligation seem meager, poorly worded,
But I hope that some goodness in your heart,
In your thoughts, openly expressed, will do it for me;
Until whatever star which guides my actions
Points to me and shines on me its good influence,
And puts a dressing on my wounded loving,
To show you I'm worthy of your sweet respect.
Then may I dare to boast how much I love you,
Until then I'll keep a cool head so you can't test me.
Tired from work, I quickly go to my bed,
Which is a welcome place to rest limbs tired from travel;
But then begins a journey in my head
That puts my mind to work, after my body's work is done;
For then my thoughts, far from where I live,
Intend an enthusiastic journey there to where you are,
And keep my sleepy eyes wide open,
Looking into the darkness like a blind man does:
Except that my soul's imaginative eyesight
Presents your image to me in the darkness,
Which, like a jewel hung in the terrifying night,
Makes the black night look beautiful and her old face new.
So, consequently, by day my limbs, by night my mind,
For you, and for myself do not find any peace.
How can I then return to a happier state of mind,
When I'm prevented from getting any rest?
When my day's oppression is not relieved by night,
But sleepless nights, and wearisome days oppress me,
And each, though they are natural enemies,
Have agreed by shaking hands to torture me,
The day doing so by my laboring, the night by thoughts
Of how much I labor, still so far away from you?
I tell the day, to please him, that you are bright
And you do him justice when the clouds cover the skies;
So I flatter the dark-complexioned night,
When sparkling stars hide, and you make bright the dark.
But each day continues to prolong my sorrows,
And each night makes my strong grief even stronger.
When, out of favor in fortune and in men's eyes,
I alone cry over my rejected condition,
And trouble heaven's deaf ears with my useless cries,
And look at myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing I was more someone who is bubbling with hope,
Looking more like him, having many friends like he has,
Desiring this man's skills, and his opportunities,
Dissatisfied with the things I usually enjoy;
Yet when I think of these things, almost hating myself,
Happily I think of you,and then my condition improves,
Like the lark who greets the morning sun rising
From the hostilely silent earth, to sing at heaven's gate;
For when I remember your sweet love it makes me so rich
That I refuse to trade places even with kings.
When I sit alone with my sweet silent thoughts
I summon up memories of things past,
I yearn for those things I lack but once sought,
And to old griefs I add new crying for my wasted times.
Then I can drown my eyes, unused to crying,
For dear friends hidden in the dark eternal night of death,
And I cry again for hurts in loves that time has healed,
And moan the loss for many things I'll never see again.
Then I can grieve at grievances I had let go of,
And heavily from one woe to another
I can sadly recount each woe I already shed tears for,
Which I newly shed as If I had never suffered before.
But during the time I think about you, dear friend,
All losses are recouped and all my sorrows end.
You are endeared to all those who know you,
I assumed them dead because I no longer have their love;
And there reigns love, and all of Love's belongings,
And all those friends which I thought were dead.
How many devotional and eager tears
Has my religious love stolen from my eyes,
As payment for those I thought dead, which now appear
Not to be dead but hidden from me within your heart!
You are the grave where those I once loved now live,
Hung with the mementos of my past lovers,
Who gave you all of the love I gave to them:
All of the love I owed to them is now yours only.
All of those I once loved I see them in you,
And you, and they, all of you have all of my love.
If you survive the day I die, of which I will not complain,
When bad-mannered Death covers my bones with dust,
And if by chance you should happen to re-read
These poor rude lines from someone who loved you,
Read them alongside the improved style of the times,
And even though they are outdone by better poets,
Keep them for the sake of my love, not for their rhyme,
Which more skilled men will have far surpassed.
Oh, then grant me but this loving thought:
"Had my friend's inspiration aged along with the times,
His love would have given birth to better poems,
Compared in rank to those poets better equipped to write;
But since he died, and poets have written better,
I'll read their poems for their style, his for his love.
I have seen many glorious mornings
Beautify mountain-tops with royal countenance of the sun,
Kissing the green meadows with its golden face,
Covering with heavenly gold the pale streams,
And other times permit the nastiest clouds to ride
With ugly framework on his celestial face,
And from the hopeless world hide his face,
Sneaking the sun off to the west in disgrace.
Even so my sun shone early one morning
With all-triumphant splendor on my forehead,
But, once out, unfortunately, he only stayed for one hour;
Now, the clouds have hidden him from me.
Yet I don't fault him for this at all;
Suns of the world lose luster as does real sun.
Why did you promise such a beautiful day,
And make me go out without my cloak,
To let dark clouds overtake me on the way,
Hiding your radiance in their poisonous mist?
It's not enough that you break through the clouds
To dry the rain on my storm-beaten face,
For no man can be satisfied with a cure
That heals the wound but doesn't take away the scar:
Nor can your shame give comfort to my grief;
Even though you're sorry, I have still suffered the wound.
The offender's sorrow is of little consolation
To the person who bears the cross of such an offense.
Ah, but the tears you're shedding for me are like pearls,
And are valuable, and make up for all of your bad deeds.
Don't fret anymore over what you have done:
No one is perfect, sparkling fountains have mud;
Clouds & eclipses sometimes cover both sun and moon,
And disgusting grubs live on the sweetest flowers.
All men make mistakes, even me, right now,
Excusing your transgressions through rationalization,
Corrupting myself, making excuses for your imperfections,
Excusing your sins far beyond what they are worth;
Because to your physical urges I bring reason--
The party you have injured now speaks in your behalf--
And I'm now pleading your case against myself,
There's such a conflict between my love and hate,
That I must be the criminal accessory
To that sweet thief who unpleasantly robs from me.
I realize that the two of us must part,
Even though we are united in love;
So will our disgraces, those that still remain with me,
Without any help from you, be carried by myself alone.
Our love for one another gives us common ground,
Although in our lives it is a malicious separator,
Which, even though it doesn't change love's purpose,
It still steals those sweet hours that love delights in.
Nevermore will I openly acknowledge you,
In case my lamentable guilt can still do you harm,
Nor can you honor me with your public kindness
Without risking the reputation of your good name.
But don't do that. I love you so much
That, you being mine, I value your reputation as my own.
Just as a aged father takes delight
In seeing his active child engaging in youthful activities,
So I, made cripple by fortune's spiteful injury, Take all of
my comfort in your good worth and true qualities;
For whether beauty, nobility, or wealth, or intelligence,
Or any one of these, or all of these, or more than these,
Sit on your head like the crown of a king,
I make my love loyal to your stock of plenty:
So that I'm neither crippled, nor poor, nor despised,
As long as your stock gives my shadow such substance
I am satisfied by your abundance of good luck
And I can live off part of all of your glory.
Whatever is best, the best I wish for you:
This is what I wish; then I am ten times happier.
How can my Muse want new subject matter
While you're still breathing; while you pour into my verses
Your own pleasing subject matter, too excellent
For any commonplace paper to print?
Oh, give yourself the credit, if ever a thing in my writing
Stands worthy of your inspection and approval;
For who is so lacking in words that they can't write to you,
When you yourself light the way for creation?
Become you the tenth Muse, worth ten times more
Than those old nine others which rhymers call upon,
And he who calls for your inspiration, let him bring forward
Everlasting verses to outlive the end of time.
If my bit of inspiration pleases today's stern readers,
I'll do the work, but the praise will be yours.
Oh, how can I decently sing your praises without conceit,
When you are all the better part of me?
What good does it do me to praise myself?
And which praises are mine when I praise you?
For this reason let us live separately,
And let our dear love lose its common identity,
So that by this separation I may give
You those praises, which you alone deserve.
Oh, Absence, you would prove to be such a torment
Were it not for the fact that by you leaving
I can spend the time thinking about love,
Which makes the time and my thoughts pass so sweetly,
And that you teach how to make one become two
By praising him here while he remains somewhere else.
Take all my loves, my love, yes, take them all:
What do you have now that you didn't have before?
No love, my love, that you may call true love;
My love was all yours before you took my other loves.
Then, if for my love you go ahead and take it,
I can't blame you for taking advantage of it;
But you should be blamed, if you deceive yourself
By willfully taking what you won't take from another.
I do forgive your robbery, gentle thief,
Although you steal for yourself the little I have left;
And yet, love knows it hurts much more
When a loved one injures you than when an enemy does.
Provocative lust, in whom everything looks bad,
Kill me with your petty ill will; but we must never be foes.
Those delightful infidelities you freely commit,
When I'm sometimes away from you for awhile,
Suits your beauty and your youth quite well,
Because temptation continually follows wherever you go.
You are noble, and therefore a prize,
You're beautiful, ergo to be aggressively pursued;
And when a woman romances you, what man
Would rudely leave her until she has had her way?
Oh my! but you might at least decline to take my place,
And scold your beauty and your straying youth,
Which are leading you to a place of immoral behavior
Where you are forced to break two bonds:
Hers to me, by tempting her to you with your beauty,
And yours to me, by being unfaithful to me.
That you have her is not the total sum of my grief,
And yet you can say I loved her dearly;
That she has you is what I grieve over the most,
A loss of love that touches me quite deeply.
Criminals in love, I will forgive you in this manner:
You do love her, because you know I love her,
For my sake she loves you and so she deceives me,
Urging my friend for my sake to test her physically.
If I lose you, my loss is her gain,
And if I lose her, my friend will find what I have lost:
Both find each other, and I lose them both,
And both for my sake lay this burden upon me.
But here's the joy: my friend and I are one and the same.
Goodness gracious! Then she only loves me.
When I'm asleep, that's when my eyes see clearest,
Because during the day I see things I don't care about;
But when I sleep, in dreams my eyes look at you,
And blindly seeing, their light is given cause in the dark.
Then you, whose form is made bright by the darkness,
How would your image make a favorable impact
To the clear day with your much brighter light,
When to my closed eyes your figure shines so?
How would, I say, my eyes be made more blessed
By looking at you in the light of day,
When in dead of night your fair imperfect Image
In my sound sleep stays on my closed eyes?
Every day is a dark night until I see you,
And nights are as bright as days when I dream of you.
If the heavy substance of my flesh were thought,
This wicked distance between us would not stop me;
For then, despite the distance, I would bring myself
From the farthest distances to where you're staying.
It wouldn't matter if my feet were standing
Upon the spot on earth farthest away from you,
Because nimble thought can jump to places where he is.
As soon as I think of the place where he resides.
But, ah, to think that I am not thought kills me,
I can't leap the great distances to where you are,
Being myself made up of so much earth and water,
I must wait and complain until time is able to favor me;
Receiving nothing from heavy elements (earth and water)
Except sad tears, (heavy/slow) emblems causing grief.
The other two elements, weightless air and purifying fire,
are both with you, wherever I may be;
The first (air) is my thought, the other (fire) is my desire,
These present-absent (here-gone) motions move quickly.
For when these quicker elements (air & fire) are gone
In tender errand of love to you,
My life, made of all four elements, but left with only two,
Sinks down to death, making me depressed, gloomy,
Until life's balance is restored within me
By those sweet messengers (air & fire) returned from you,
Who even now come back again, assured
Of your good health, telling me all about it.
When they tell me this, I rejoice, but then, depressed,
I return them to you again, and immediately become sad.
My eye and heart are at war with each other
As to how to divide (control) the spoils of your image;
My eye wants to deny my heart the viewing of your image;
My heart wants to deny my eye the right to do so.
My heart insists that your image should lie within him,
In a closet never to be looked into by clearly seeing eyes,
But the defendant (my eyes) pleads the opposite,
And says that your beautiful image should lie in him.
To settle this argument there is selected
A jury of thoughts, all owing tribute to the heart,
And by their verdict it has been determined
The clear eyes' share and the dear heart's portion,
As follows: my eyes will possess your outward image,
My heart will have the rights to the love within your heart.
Between my eye and heart there is an allegiance,
And now each one does the other good favors.
When my eye is hungry for a look at you,
Or my heart smothers itself with sighs of love over you,
My eye feasts on the picture of my love,
And bids my heart to come and feast as well;
And at other times my eye is the guest of my heart
And of his thoughts of love he shares a part.
So, either by your image or my love for you,
Even though you are away you are still with me;
Because you are not further than where my thoughts travel,
And I'm still with my thoughts and they are with you;
Or, if my thoughts sleep, your image in my (sleeping) eyes
Will wake my heart to the delight of my heart and eyes.
I used to be so careful when I traveled,
Putting each trivial possession under lock and key,
For my own use but to stay unused
From thieving hands, in secure, trustworthy vaults!
But you, next to whom my jewels are mere trifles,
My greatest comfort, are now my greatest grief,
You, most dearest to me and the only thing I care about,
Are left out for any vulgar thief to prey upon.
I have not locked you up in any chest
Except where you are not, though I feel you are---
Within the gentle enclosure of my chest,
From where as you please you can come and go;
Even then I fear you will be stolen,
For even an honest man will turn thief for such a dear prize.
In preparation for that time, if that time ever comes,
When I will see you frown upon my defects,
When your love has made it to its final reckoning,
Called to that judgment by well-weighed considerations;
Against that time when you will pass by me like a stranger,
Barely acknowledging me with that gleam in your eye,
When love, changed from the way it used to be,
Will find excuses of a serious nature;
In anticipation of that time I will now fortify myself
With the knowledge of how little I really deserve,
And with my own words will give testimony against myself
In order to justify the reasons for your future actions.
To leave me you have the legal right to do so,
Since I can't find any reason for you to love me.
How sadly do I journey on my way,
When what I seek, the end of my weary travels,
Teaches me enough of rest and leisure to say,
"So far, you are this many miles away from your friend!"
The horse that carries me, affected by my sadness,
Plods slowly on, bearing the weight of my emotions,
As if by some instinct the poor creature did know,
His rider was in no hurry to be taken away from you
The bloody spur cannot provoke him (to move faster)
Even though in anger I thrust it into hide,
Which heavily he answers with a groan
Which hurts me more than it does him;
Because that same groan puts this thought into my mind:
My grief lies ahead of me, and my joy behind me.
|SHAKESPEARE'S SONNETS 26 THRU 50