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 Sonnets of William Shakespeare

I

From fairest creatures we desire increase,

That thereby beauty's rose might never die,

But as the riper should by time decrease,

His tender heir might bear his memory:

But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,

Feed'st thy light's flame with self-substantial fuel,

Making a famine where abundance lies,

Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.

Thou that art now the world's fresh ornament,

And only herald to the gaudy spring,

Within thine own bud buriest thy content,

And, tender churl, mak'st waste in niggarding.

Pity the world, or else this glutton be,

To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee.

 

II

When forty winters shall besiege thy brow,

And dig deep trenches in thy beauty's field,

Thy youth's proud livery, so gaz'd on now,

Will be a tatter'd weed, of small worth held:

Then being ask'd where all thy beauty lies,

Where all the treasure of thy lusty days;

To say, within thine own deep sunken eyes,

Were an all-eating shame and thriftless praise.

How much more praise deserv'd thy beauty's use,

If thou couldst answer—'This fair child of mine

Shall sum my count, and make my old excuse—'

Proving his beauty by succession thine!

This were to be new-made when thou art old,

And see thy blood warm when thou feel'st it cold.

 

III

Look in thy glass, and tell the face thou viewest,

Now is the time that face should form another;

Whose fresh repair if now thou not renewest,

Thou dost beguile the world, unbless some mother.

For where is she so fair whose unear'd womb

Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry?

Or who is he so fond will be the tomb

Of his self-love, to stop posterity?

Thou art thy mother's glass, and she in thee

Calls back the lovely April of her prime:

So thou through windows of thine age shalt see,

Despite of wrinkles, this thy golden time.

But if thou live, remembered not to be,

Die single, and thine image dies with thee.

 

IV

Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend

Upon thyself thy beauty's legacy?

Nature's bequest gives nothing, but doth lend,

And, being frank, she lends to those are free.

Then, beauteous niggard, why dost thou abuse

Thy bounteous largess given thee to give?

Profitless usurer, why dost thou use

So great a sum of sums, yet canst not live?

For having traffic with thyself alone,

Thou of thyself thy sweet self dost deceive.

Then how, when nature calls thee to be gone,

What acceptable audit canst thou leave?

The unus'd beauty must be tomb'd with thee,

Which, used, lives th' executor to be.

 

V

Those hours with gentle work did frame

Thy lovely gaze where every eye doth dwell,

Will play the tyrants to the very same,

And that unfair which fairly doth excel;

For never-resting time leads summer on

To hideous winter, and confounds him there;

Sap check'd with frost, and lusty leaves quite gone,

Beauty o'ersnow'd, and bareness everywhere:

Then, were not summer's distillation left,

A liquid prisoner pent in walls of glass,

Beauty's effect with beauty were bereft,

Nor it, nor no remembrance what it was.

But flowers distill'd, though they with winter meet,

Leese but their show; their substance still lives sweet.

 

VI

Then let not winter's ragged hand deface

In thee thy summer, ere thou be distill'd:

Make sweet some phial; treasure thou some place

With beauty's treasure, ere it be self-kill'd.

That use is not forbidden usury,

Which happies those that pay the willing loan;

That's for thyself to breed another thee,

Or ten times happier, be it ten for one;

Ten times thyself were happier than thou art,

If ten of thine ten times refigur'd thee:

Then what could Death do if thou shouldst depart,

Leaving thee living in posterity?

Be not self-will'd, for thou art much too fair

To be Death's conquest and make worms thine heir.

 

VII

Lo, in the orient when the gracious light

Lifts up his burning head, each under eye

Doth homage to his new-appearing sight,

Serving with looks his sacred majesty;

And having climb'd the steep-up heavenly hill,

Resembling strong youth in his middle age,

Yet mortal looks adore his beauty still,

Attending on his golden pilgrimage;

But when from high-most pitch, with weary car,

Like feeble age, he reeleth from the day,

The eyes, 'fore duteous, now converted are

From his low tract, and look another way:

So thou, thyself, outgoing in thy noon,

Unlook'd on diest, unless thou get a son.

 

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