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Sonnets of William Shakespeare

LXXVIII

So oft have I invoked thee for my muse,

And found such fair assistance in my verse,

As every alien pen hath got my use,

And under thee their poesy disperse.

Thine eyes, that taught the dumb on high to sing,

And heavy ignorance aloft to fly,

Have added feathers to the learned's wing,

And given grace a double majesty.

Yet be most proud of that which I compile,

Whose influence is thine, and born of thee:

In others' works thou dost but mend the style,

And arts with thy sweet graces graced be;

But thou art all my art, and dost advance

As high as learning my rude ignorance.

 

LXXIX

Whilst I alone did call upon thy aid,

My verse alone had all thy gentle grace;

But now my gracious numbers are decay'd,

And my sick muse doth give another place.

I grant, sweet love, thy lovely argument

Deserves the travail of a worthier pen;

Yet what of thee thy poet doth invent,

He robs thee of, and pays it thee again.

He lends thee virtue, and he stole that word

From thy behavior; beauty doth he give,

And found it in thy cheek; he can afford

No praise to thee but what in thee doth live.

Then thank him not for that which he doth say,

Since what he owes thee thou thyself dost pay.

 

LXXX

O, how I faint when I of you do write,

Knowing a better spirit doth use your name,

And in the praise thereof spends all his might,

To make me tongue-tied, speaking of your fame!

But since your worth (wide as the ocean is)

The humble as the proudest sail doth bear,

My saucy bark, inferior far to his,

On your broad main doth willfully appear.

Your shallowest help will hold me up afloat,

Whilst he upon your soundless deep doth ride;

Or, being wreck'd, I am a worthless boat,

He of tall building, and of goodly pride:

Then if he thrive, and I be cast away,

The worst was this;―my love was my decay.

 

LXXXI

Or I shall live your epitaph to make,

Or you survive when I in earth am rotten;

From hence your memory death cannot take,

Although in me each part will be forgotten.

Your name from hence immortal life shall have,

Though I, once gone, to all the world must die:

The earth can yield me but a common grave,

When you entombed in men's eyes shall lie.

Your monument shall be my gentle verse,

Which eyes not yet created shall o'er-read;

And tongues to be, your being shall rehearse,

When all the breathers of this world are dead;

You shall live (such virtue hath my pen)

Where breath most breathes,—even in the mouths of men.

 

LXXXII

I grant thou wert not married to my muse,

And therefore mayst without attaint o'erlook

The dedicated words which writers use

Of their fair subject, blessing every book.

Thou art as fair in knowledge a in hue,

Finding thy worth a limit past my praise;

And therefore art enforc'd to seek anew

Some fresher stamp of the time-bettering days.

And do so, love; yet when they have devis'd

What strained touches rhetoric can lend,

Thou truly fair wert truly sympathiz'd

In true plain words, by thy true-telling friend,

And their gross painting might be better us'd

Where cheeks need blood; in thee it is abus'd.

 

LXXXIII

I never saw that you did painting need,

And therefore to your fair no painting set.

I found, or thought I found, you did exceed

The barren tender of a poet's debt:

And therefore have I slept in your report

That you yourself, being extant, well might show

How far a modern quill doth come too short,

Speaking of worth, what worth in you doth grow.

This silence for my sin you did impute,

Which shall be most my glory, being dumb;

For I impair not beauty being mute,

When others would give life, and bring a tomb,

There lives more life in one of your fair eyes

Than both your poets can in praise devise.

 

LXXXIV

Who is it that says most? which can say more

Than this rich praise,―that you alone are you?

In whose confine immured is the store

Which should example where your equal grew?

Lean penury within that pen doth dwell,

That to his subject lends not some small glory;

But he that writes of you, if he can tell

That you are you, so dignifies his story,

Let him but copy what in you is writ,

Not making worse what nature made so clear,

And such a counterpart shall fame his wit,

Making his style admired everywhere.

You to your beauteous blessings add a curse,

Being fond on praise, which makes your praises worse.

 

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