In Shakespeare's English
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 prais'd of ages yet to be.
Then do thy office. Muse; I teach thee how
To make him seem long hence as he shows now.
My love is strengthen'd, though more weak in seeming;
I love not less, though less the show appear:
That love is merchandiz'd 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.
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.
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 perceiv'd;
So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand,
Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceiv'd:
For fear of which, hear this, thou age unbred:
Ere you were born was beauty's summer dead.
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 confin'd,
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.
When in the chronicle of wasted time
I see descriptions of the fairest wights,
And beauty making beautiful old rime,
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,
Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise.
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,
Suppos'd as forfeit to a confin'd 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 rime,
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.
What's in the brain that ink may character,
Which hath not figur'd 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.
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 rang'd,
Like him that travels, I return again;
Just to the time, not with the time exchang'd,
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.
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 prov'd thee my best of love.
Now all is done, save 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 confin'd.
Then give me welcome, next my heaven the best,
Even to thy pure and most most loving breast.
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 subdu'd
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.
Your love and pity doth th'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 other's 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 th'are dead.
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 rud'st 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 maketh mine untrue.
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 alchymy,
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.
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?
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.
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-purchas'd right;
That I have hoisted sail to all the winds
Which should transport me furthest 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.
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 full 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 diseas'd, ere that there was true needing.
Thus policy in love, to anticipate
The ills that were not; grew to faults assur'd,
And brought to medicine a healthful state,
Which, rank of goodness, would by ill be cur'd;
But thence I learn, and find the lesson true,
Drugs poison him that so fell sick of you.
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 rebuk'd to my content,
And gain by ill thrice more than I have spent.
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 suffer'd 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 salve which wounded bosoms fits!
But that your trespass now becomes a fee;
Mine ransoms yours, and yours must ransom me.
'Tis better to be vile than vile esteem'd,
When not to be receives reproach of being;
And the just pleasure lost, which is so deem'd
Not by our feeling, but by others' seeing:
For why should others' false adulterate eyes
Give salutation to my sportive blood?
Or on my frailties why are frailer spies,
Which in their wills count bad what I think good?
No, I am that I am, and they that level
At my abuses reckon up their own:
I may be straight though they themselves be bevel;
By their rank thoughts my deeds must not be shown;
Unless this general evil they maintain,
All men are bad and in their badness reign.
Thy gift, thy tables, are within my brain
Full character'd with lasting memory,
Which shall above that idle rank remain,
Beyond all date, even to eternity:
Or, at the least, so long as brain and heart
Have faculty by nature to subsist;
Till each to raz'd oblivion yield his part
Of thee, thy record never can be miss'd
That poor retention could not so much hold,
Nor need I tallies thy dear love to score;
Therefore to give them from me was I bold,
To trust those tables that receive thee more
To keep an adjunct to remember thee
Were to import forgetfulness in me.
No, Time, thou shall not boast that I do change:
Thy pyramids built up with newer might
To me are nothing novel, nothing strange;
They are but dressings of a former sight.
Our dates are brief, and therefore we admire
What thou dost foist upon us that is old;
And rather make them born to our desire
Than think that we before have heard them told.
Thy registers and thee I both defy,
Not wondering at the present nor the past,
For thy records and what we see doth lie,
Made more or less by thy continual haste.
This I do vow, and this shall ever be;
I will be true, despite thy scythe and thee.
If my dear love were but the child of state,
It might for Fortune's bastard be unfathered,
As subject to Time's love or to Time's hate,
Weeds among weeds, or flowers with flowers gather'd.
No, it was builded far from accident;
It suffers not in smiling pomp, nor falls
Under the blow of thralled discontent,
Whereto the inviting time our fashion calls:
It fears not policy, that heretic,
Which works on leases of short number'd hours
But all alone stands hugely politic,
That it nor grows with heat, nor drowns with showers.
To this I witness call the fools of time,
Which die for goodness, who have liv'd for crime.
Were't aught to me I bore the canopy,
With my extern the outward honouring,
Or laid great bases for eternity,
Which prove more short than waste or ruining?
Have I not seen dwellers on form and favour
Lose all and more by paying too much rent,
For compound sweet foregoing simple savour
Pitiful thrivers, in their gazing spent?
No; let me be obsequious in thy heart,
And take thou my oblation, poor but free,
Which is not mix'd with seconds, knows no art,
But mutual render, only me for thee.
Hence, thou suborn'd informer! a true soul
When moat impeach'd stands least in thy control
O thou, my lovely boy, who in thy power
Dost hold Time's fickle glass, his sickle hour;
Who hast by waning grown, and therein show'st
Thy lovers withering as thy sweet self grow'st;
If Nature, sovereign mistress over wrack,
As thou goest onwards, still will pluck thee back,
She keeps thee to this purpose, that her skill
May time disgrace and wretched minutes kill.
Yet fear her, O thou minion of her pleasure!
She may detain, but not still keep, her treasure:
Her audit, though delay'd, answer'd must be,
And her quietus is to render thee.
In Plain English
Oh truant Muse, how are you going to make amends
For neglecting the embodiment of truth wrapped in beauty?
Both truth and beauty depend on my beloved;
You depend on, and are given dignity, by my beloved also.
Answer me, Muse: won't you perhaps say,
"Truth needs no embellishment, with its color already perfect;
Beauty doesn't need to be described for beauty to be seen;
But isn't perfection best when it is unadulterated?
But just because he doesn't need praising, will you be silent?
Your silence can't be excused; for you have the ability
To make him live longer than a golden tomb
And win the praises of future generations.
Then do your job, Muse, I'll teach you how
To make him look in the distant future as he does now.
My love is strong, although it may seem weak.
I don't love less, although I make it seem I love less.
That love is a commodity when held in high evaluation
And the owner makes public its value everywhere.
Our love was still new, when it was still spring,
And I was inclined to greet that love with my verses,
The way Philomel (nightingale) sings at the start of summer,
And stops her singing as summer comes into it own---
Not that summer is any less pleasant now
Than when her (the nightingale) songs filled the night air,
But every bough is filled with songbirds singing,
When you hear them too often they become less delightful.
Therefore, like Philomel, sometimes I keep silent,
Because I don't want to bore you with my song.
Regrettably, my Muse brings me such poor verses
That although I have such a great subject to write about,
The subject is worth a lot more by itself
Than if I were to add to it any of my praises!
Oh, don't blame me if I can't write anymore:
Look in the mirror, and there you'll see the face
That overwhelms my simple, course poetic ability,
Making my lines dull and thereby disgracing me.
It would be a sin, then, striving to fix (improve) my poetry,
If I were to mess up my subject which was already well as is.
Because for no other reason do I write my verses
Than to exalt your charms and wonderful qualities;
And more, much more, than what I can put into my poetry,
Your own mirror will show you when you look into it.
To me, my friend, you can never be old,
Because today it seems, like the very first day I met you,
Your beauty has not changed. Three cold winters
Have stripped the leaves off three proud summers;
Three beautiful springs have turned to three yellow autumns
All in the course of the seasons I have seen,
Three Aprils of flowers have burned in three hot Junes
Since the first day I saw you in your newness, still green.
Ah, but yet beauty, like the hands of a clock,
Creeps away from the person, so slowly no one notices;
So your blush, which seems to me the same, not to change,
Is actually changing, and my eyes may have been deceived.
In case it is, hear this, unborn generations, yet to come:
Before you were born summers beauty was already dead.
Let no one call my love idolatry,
Or say that I treat my beloved as an idol,
Since all of my poems and praises alike
Are about, for, one person, still are, and always will be.
My love is kind today, will be kind tomorrow,
Always constant in wondrous excellence.
Therefore, my verses are confined to one subject,
Always expressing the same thing, never anything different.
"Beauty, kindness, and fidelity," are my themes,
"Beauty, kindness, and fidelity," written in various languages,
And in this endeavor I spend all of my creativity,
Three themes in one, which lend themselves to various verses, /
"Beauty, kindness, and fidelity," have often lived separately, / But
the three of them never lived as one until you came along.
When in the history of days gone by
I see descriptions of the most beautiful living beings,
And read of how their beauty inspired heavenly rhymes
In praise of ladies now dead, and handsome knights;
Then, in the memorializing of their most beautiful attributes,
Their hands, their feet, their lips, their eyes, their foreheads,
I see the ancient poets were actually writing
About the same kind of beauty that you possess now.
So all of their praises were really prophecies
of our time; all of them predictions about you,
But, since they could only forecast without certainty,
They didn't have enough skill to sing your praises;
For we, who now behold the current times, / Are amazed by your
beauty, but lack poetic skills to describe it.
Neither my own fears nor the collective consciousness
Of the whole wide world anxiously awaiting the future,
Can yet my time allotted with my love put a limit to it,
A limit thought subject to end within an allotted time period.
The mortal moon has finally been eclipsed,
And the gloomy seers now mock their own predictions;
What was once uncertain is now no longer so,
And peace offers olive branches that will last forever.
With healing tears of joy of these fragrant and healthy times
My beloved is young again, & Death knows I'm superior,
Since, in spite of Death, I'll live on in this poor poem
While Death triumphs over dull and speechless people.
And you will find this poem to be your monument,
When the reigns of tyrants end and tombs of brass decay.
What can I possibly think of to put into writing
That hasn't already showed how true and faithful my soul is?
What else is there to say, to newly invent,
That might express my love, or demonstrate your worth?
Nothing, sweet boy; but yet, like divine prayers,
I have to say the same thing over and over again,
Without thinking these prayers old; you're mine, I'm yours,
Just like when I first blessed your name in writing.
So my eternal love for you in its lively state (spruce dress)
Takes no account of the effects or the wrinkles of old age,
Nor does it acknowledge your wrinkles,
But makes of age his ever-young servant,
Finding the first love in its original force
Where time and outward appearance may suggest it's dead.
Oh, never say I was unfaithful to you in my heart,
Though my absence seemed to diminish my love for you.
I can as easily separate my feelings for you from myself
As I can myself from my soul, which lives within your heart;
You heart is my home. If I have wandered,
Like a traveler, I always returned,
True to my appointed hour, not changed by the passing time,
So I can make up for my misdeeds.
Don't ever believe, though I have the same mortal flaws
As everyone else made of flesh and blood,
That I could be so morally compromised as to
Leave someone as good as you for something worthless;
For there is nothing in this entire universe I call
My love except for you; You're everything to me.
Unfortunately, it's true, I have gone here and there,
And made myself visibly a fool,
Allowed my thoughts to be split, devalued what is valuable,
Given new instances of my old offense of unfaithfulness.
It's very true that I have treated true love
Strangely, as if without recognition, but, by all in heaven,
These deviations have made my heart young again, and
These experiences of inferior love proved you my best love.
Now I'm done with everything except our everlasting love:
I no longer need to whet my appetite
With other loves, causing grief to my old friend,
The god of love, to whom I am bound.
So welcome me back, you the next best thing to heaven,
Into your pure and utmost loving heart.
Oh, it is for my sake that you scold Fortune, the goddess
Who shares in the guilt of the deeds she encouraged,
Who did not provide better for my livelihood
Than the public living made in the public world,
Which generates vulgar behavior, gives my name a stigma,
And in doing so I am overpowered by it
Polluting my very nature, the way a dyer's hand is by dye).
Have pity on me, then, and hope I am restored to new,
Meanwhile, like a willing patient, I will drink
Medicines of vinegar (against plague) for my bad infection;
There is no bitterness that I will think it bitter,
Nor second penance I will not do again to correct the first.
Pity me, then, dear friend, and I assure you,
Your pity is enough to cure me.
Your love and pity make up for and cover the scar
Which public disgrace has branded on my forehead;
Since what do I care who calls me bad or good,
So long as you cover up my bad & approve my good points?
You're the entire world to me, and I must strive
To learn the good and bad things about myself from you;
No one else matters to me, or to whom I matter,
Who affects my obdurate sense for right or wrong.
Into so deep an abyss I throw the opinions
Other people utter, that I have become deaf
and (thusly) their criticisms and flattery are stopped.
See for yourself how I excuse my neglect of their voices:
You matter so much to me that to me,
With the exception of you, the rest of the world is dead.
Since I left you, I'm absorbed in my own thoughts
And those functions which govern what I must perform
Do part of their job, and partly ignore other tasks,
They seem to look, but effectually they are dead;
Because they do not deliver any image to my heart
Of birds, of flowers, or any shape I can understand:
Of sight's fleeting objects my mind will have not part in,
Nor can I remember seeing what it has shown me;
Because even if it sees the rudest or kindest creatures,
Or the most beautifully shaped or most deformed creatures,
Or the mountain, or the sea, or the day or night,
The crow or dove, my vision reshapes them into your image.
Unable to take in anything else but your image,
My true mind makes me see everything wrongly.
Should I say that my mind, being made king by your love,
Is drunk on this plague of monarchs, this flattery?
Or should I say my eyes are seeing accurately,
And that your love showed it this magic,
Magic to make monsters and other shapeless things
Into angels so they resemble your sweet self?
Transforming every bad image into the perfect image,
As fast as these objects can come into its field of vision?
Oh, the first thing I said is true, it is flattery that deludes me,
And my mind drinks it up the way a king accepts it.
My eyes know perfectly well what my mind desires,
And to please its palate, fill its cup with what it likes.
If it is poisoned, it is a lesser sin
To have my eyes love it too, & drink first (to spare the king).
Those poems, which I have written before, spoke lies
When I said I could not love you even more;
Back then, I had no reason to ask why
My brightest burning flame couldn't burn even brighter.
But passing of time, filled with millions of unexpected events,
Can creep in between promises, and alter decrees of kings,
Age sacred beauty, take the edge off the keenest intentions,
Force the strongest minds to adapt to changing events;
Unfortunately, why, fearing Time's destructive power,
Didn't I say, "I love you best now"
When I was certain about my love, when all else was not,
To crown myself with joy now, even if the future's vague?
If love is beginning to blossom, why shouldn't I say so,
And say my love is fully grown even if it is still growing?
May I never, to the coupled minds who truly love each other,
Accept reasons why they shouldn't be joined. Love isn't love
If it changes when it sees the beloved change,
Or if it disappears when the beloved leaves.
Oh no, it is a constant light (sea-mark),
That shines on a storm and is never shaken by it;
It is a guiding star to every sea-faring boat,
A priceless star, although its altitude can be measured.
Love's unchanged by Time, though rosy lips and cheeks
Come within his grasp and are destroyed by it;
Love never changes despite the passing hours and weeks,
But lasts until the crack of doom (judgement day).
If this is an error, and I am proven wrong,
Then I never wrote, and no one has ever loved.
Accuse me like this: Say I've neglected every opportunity
To repay the great obligation I owe you,
That I've forgotten to invoke your precious love,
Though every day I'm bound more and more to you;
That I've spent too much time with strangers,
& given away the time that you have a right to spend with me;
That I've hoisted the sails of my ship and let the winds
Transport me to the farthest distance away from you.
Put on record all of the stubborn and wrong things I've done,
And add what you suspect to whatever proof you have,
Bring me close enough to see your frown,
But don't frown upon me with hatred I've awakened in you,
Because in my defense I say I tried to prove
The constancy and virtue (strength) of your love.
Just as we like to make sharper our appetites
With spicy sauces or medicinal mixtures to stir the palate;
As well as to prevent or ward off future illnesses,
We make ourselves sick to shun illness by taking laxatives;
Nevertheless, being so full of your never wearying honey,
To bitter sauces I directed my diet;
And, tired of my health, found other kinds of people,
to keep from being ill of you, who I truly need.
Thus I used cunning, mistaken prudence, to anticipate
The ills that didn't exist; and I developed indubitable illness,
And brought to need of medicine an otherwise healthy body
Which, glut with goodness, I applied evil medicine to cure it.
But then I learned, and found the lesson to be true,
Drugs I used were poisonous, since I'm lovesick over you.
What medicinal drams have I drunk that were sweetly alluring
Distilled from stills as foul as hell itself,
Applying (as a potion) fears to hopes, and hopes to fears,
Still losing when I expected myself to win!
What wretched errors I committed in my heart
When I thought myself happy as never before!
How my eyes were almost driven out of their sockets by fits
During the delirium caused by the fever of this madness!
Oh, the benefits of (sickness) doing wrong! Now I see it's true
That good things can be made better through evil,
And when you ruin love, when it is repaired,
It returns more beautiful, stronger, and greater than at first.
So I return (after being scolded) to what makes me happy,
And gain back by evil deeds threefold what I've spent.
The fact that you were once cruel to me helps me now,
And on account of the sorrow I felt back then
I must submit to a sense of my own wrong-doing,
Unless my nerves are made of brass or steel.
If you've felt my unkindness towards you,
The way I've felt your unkindness, then you've been hell,
And I've acted like a tyrant by not taking the time
To reflect how I once suffered due to your wrong behavior.
Oh, I wish our dark time of sorrow would have reminded me,
In the deepest sense, of how hard true sorrow hits,
And that I had speedily to you, as you to me, had offered
The remedy of humility which an injured heart needs most!
But your offense now compensates you for what I've done;
My offense cancels out yours, and yours must cancel mine.
It is better to be vile than to be thought vile,
When you're criticized for being vile when you're not,
And didn't get joy from being vile as you were judged to be,
Not by the way you feel, but by what others see:
For why should people who are corrupt themselves
Wink knowingly at my lustful inclinations?
Or on my weaknesses why are there (weaker eyes) set,
Which in their minds they think bad what I think good?
No, I am who I am, and they who take aim
At my misdeeds are only revealing their own corruption;
Maybe I'm the straight one and they're the ones crooked--
You can't measure my actions by their foul (lustful) thoughts,
Unless they are willing to believe this evil axiom:
That all men are bad and thrive in their badness.
Your gifts, your notebooks, are within (my brain recalled)
As well as inscribed (in the notebooks), always and forever,
But will remain longer in my memory than in those notebooks
And will outlast any date, even to eternity--
Or at least, last so long as my brain and heart
Are permitted by nature to remain alive;
Until each is forced by passing into oblivion to give up its part
Of you, your memory can never be erased.
Those little notebooks can't hold as much memory as I can,
And I've no need to keep notes to recall how much I love you;
Therefore, I was bold enough to give away your notebooks,
Trusting in my memory to keep a better record of you.
To keep a notebook so I can remember you
Is to imply that I am forgetful.
No, Time, you're not going to boast that I change;
These buildings being erected with new force
Are nothing new to me, nor are they strange;
They are merely replicas of what existed before.
Our existence is brief, and therefore we admire
What you thrust upon us from olden times,
And we imagine them new because we want them to be so
Rather than admit that we have heard it described before.
I defy both, you and your records,
Giving no interest to the past or the present;
Because your records and what we see around us are lies,
They are raised up, destroyed by your ever swift passage.
This I swear, and it will always be true:
I will be faithful despite you and your destructive power.
If my precious love for a friend were a product of high rank,
It might be rejected as illegitimate,
Because changing settings (of love and hate) can destroy it.
Shunned (like worthless weeds), accepted (like flowers).
No, it was founded far from the domain of chance;
It's not helped by the approval of authority, nor crushed
By the misery arising from individuals serving those in power.
As these times so invitingly tempt us to do so.
It (my love) fears not political schemes, that heretic,
Which have a short term effect and short term interests,
But all alone my love would be massively sagacious,
Neither growing in times of pleasure nor killed by misfortune.
To confirm what I say, I call all fools who serve time,
Who, having lived badly, only manage to do good by dying.
Would it matter to me to carry the canopy of a monarch,
With my outward bearing honoring the great person,
Or find it worthwhile making ready for enduring deeds,
Which actually last only as long as decay or ruin permit?
Haven't I seen those who favor appearance and covet favors
Lose everything and more than everything,
By giving up simple pleasures for the sake of a lavish meal,
By spending too much time on their obsessions?
No, let me offer you my services and let me be faithful,
And take my offering, it is freely given,
Which is not second-rate, needs no unnecessary additions,
Only mutual surrender, myself for yourself.
Therefore, out of here, you paid spy! When a faithful person
Like I'm is accused, someone like you lacks power over them.
Oh you, my lovely boy, have the power to keep still
Time's hourglass, to be immune to hours that cuts one down,
You have, by growing older, given proof
That your lovers wither away as you age more beautifully--
If Nature, who has power over destruction,
As you move towards death, choses to keep you from decay,
She is doing so for this reason: that with her skill
She may disgrace Time, and kill his aging effects.
Yet fear her, oh you best-loved pet of Nature! / She may delay
aging, but can't keep you forever as her treasure.
Her accounts, although delayed, must still be paid,
And so her discharge (duty) is to hand you over as payment.
Sonnet 126 may seem incomplete (with lines 13 and 14 missing), but it is not. Rather, it is an envoy in six couplets
concluding the sequence of sonnets about the male friend. It is the last of the poems about the youth. The poet
knows the youth will live on in these sonnets and so he now turns his attention to the ebb and flow of things, of renewal
and degeneration. The poet will no longer be submissive to the youth. They are now on equal footing, and the poet is
finally free of the youth's captivating beauty. From Sonnet 127 on, the poet will turn his attention to the woman
described only as the "dark lady," and we will see a unique and interesting change in what is considered beautiful.
|SHAKESPEARE'S SONNETS 101 THRU 126