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Sonnets of William Shakespeare

LXIV

When I have seen by Time's fell hand defac'd

The rich-proud cost of outworn buried age;

When sometime lofty towers I see down-ras'd

And brass eternal, slave to mortal rage;

When I have seen the hungry ocean gain

Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,

And the firm soil win of the wat'ry main,

Increasing store with loss, and loss with store;

When I have seen such interchange of state,

Or state itself confounded to decay;

Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate—

That time will come and take my love away.

This thought is as a death, which cannot choose

But weep to have that which it fears to lose.

 

LXV

Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,

But sad mortality o'ersways their power,

How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,

Whose action is no stronger than a flower?

O, how shall summer's honey breath hold out

Against the wreckful siege of battering days,

When rocks impregnable are not so stout,

Nor gates of steel so strong, but time decays?

O fearful meditation! where, alack!

Shall Time's best jewel from Time's chest lie hid?

Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?

Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid?

O none, unless this miracle have might,

That in black ink my love may still shine bright.

 

LXVI

Tir'd with all these, for restful death I cry,—

As, to behold desert a beggar born,

And needy nothing trimm'd in jollity,

And purest faith unhappily forsworn,

And gilded honour shamefully misplac'd,

And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted,

And right perfection wrongfully disgrac'd,

And strength by limping sway disabled,

And art made tongue-tied by authority,

And folly (doctor-like) controlling skill,

And simple truth miscall'd simplicity,

And captive good attending captain ill:

Tir'd with all these, from these would I be gone,

Save that, to die, I leave my love alone.

 

LXVII

Ah! wherefore with infection should he live,

And with his presence grace impiety,

That sin by him advantage should achieve,

And lace itself with his society?

Why should false painting imitate his cheek,

And steal dead seeing of his living hue?

Why should poor beauty indirectly seek

Roses of shadow, since his rose is true?

Why should he live now Nature bankrupt is,

Beggar'd of blood to blush through lively veins?

For she hath no exchequer now but his,

And, proud of many, lives upon his gains.

O, him she stores, to show what wealth she had,

In days long since, before these last so bad.

 

LXVIII

Thus is his cheek the map of days outworn,

When beauty liv'd and died as flowers do now,

Before these bastard signs of fair were born,

Or durst inhabit on a living brow;

Before the golden tresses of the dead,

The right of sepulchres, were shorn away,

To live a second life on second head,

Ere beauty's dead fleece made another gay:

In him those holy antique hours are seen,

Without all ornament, itself, and true,

Making no summer of another's green,

Robbing no old to dress his beauty new;

And him as for a map doth Nature store,

To show false Art what beauty was of yore.

 

LXIX

Those parts of thee that the world's eye doth view

Want nothing that the thought of hearts can mend:

All tongues (the voice of souls) give thee that due,

Uttering bare truth, even so as foes commend.

Thine outward thus with outward praise is crown'd;

But those same tongues that give thee so thine own,

In other accents do this praise confound,

By seeing farther than the eye hath shown.

They look into the beauty of thy mind,

And that, in guess, they measure by thy deeds;

Then (churls) their thoughts, although their eyes were kind,

To thy fair flower add the rank smell of weeds:

But why thy odour matcheth not thy show,

The solve is this,—that thou dost common grow.

 

LXX

That thou art blam'd shall not be thy defect.

For slander's mark was ever yet the fair;

The ornament of beauty is suspect,

A crow that flies in heaven's sweetest air.

So thou be good, slander doth but approve

Thy worth the greater, being woo'd of time;

For canker vice the sweetest buds doth love,

And thou present'st a pure unstained prime.

Thou hast pass'd by the ambush of young days,

Either not assail'd, or victor being charg'd;

Yet this thy praise cannot be so thy praise,

To tie up envy, evermore enlarg'd:

If some suspect of ill mask'd not thy show,

Then thou alone kingdoms of hearts shouldst owe.

 

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