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Sonnets of William Shakespeare


My tongue-tied muse in manners holds her still,

While comments of your praise, richly compil'd,

Reserve their character with golden quill,

And precious phrase by all the muses fil'd.

I think good thoughts, while others write good words,

And, like unlettered clerk, still cry 'Amen'

To every hymn that able spirits affords,

In polish'd form of well-refined pen.

Hearing you prais'd, I say, ''Tis so, 'tis true,'

And to the most of praise add something more;

But that is in my thought, whose love to you,

Though words come hindmost, holds his rank before.

Then others for the breath of words respect,

Me for my dumb thoughts, speaking in effect.



Was it the proud full sail of his great verse,

Bound for the prize of all-too-precious you,

That did my ripe thoughts in my brain inhearse,

Making their tomb the womb wherein they grew?

Was it his spirit, by spirits taught to write

Above a mortal pitch, that struck me dead?

No, neither he, nor his compeers by night

Giving him aid, my verse astonished.

He, nor that affable familiar ghost

Which nightly gulls him with intelligence,

As victors, of my silence cannot boast;

I was not sick of any fear from thence.

But when your countenance fil'd up his line,

Then lack'd I matter; that enfeebled mine.



Farewell! thou art too dear for my possessing,

And like enough thou know'st thy estimate:

The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing;

My bonds in thee are all determinate.

For how do I hold thee but by thy granting?

And for that riches where is my deserving?

The cause of this fair gift in me is wanting,

And so my patent back again is swerving.

Thyself thou gav'st, thy own worth then not knowing,

Or me, to whom thou gav'st it, else mistaking;

So great thy gift, upon misprison growing,

Comes home again, on better judgment making.

Thus have I had thee, as a dream doth flatter,

In sleep a king, but, waking, no such matter.



When thou shalt be dispos'd to set me light,

And place my merit in the eye of scorn,

Upon thy side against myself I'll fight,

And prove thee virtuous, though thou art forsworn:

With mine own weakness being best acquainted,

Upon thy part I can set down a story

Of faults conceal'd, wherein I am attainted;

That thou, in losing me, shall win much glory:

And I by this will be a gainer too;

For bending all my loving thoughts on thee,

The injuries that to myself I do,

Doing thee vantage, double-vantage me.

Such is my love, to thee I so belong,

That for thy right myself will bear all wrong.



Say that thou didst forsake me for some fault,

And I will comment upon that offense:

Speak of my lameness, and I straight will halt;

Against thy reasons making no defense.

Thou canst not, love, disgrace me half so ill,

To set a form upon a desired change,

As I'll myself disgrace: knowing thy will,

I will acquaintance strangle, and look strange;

Be absent from thy walks; and in my tongue

Thy sweet-beloved name no more shall dwell;

Lest I (too much profane) should do it wrong,

And haply of our old acquaintance tell.

For thee, against myself I'll vow debate,

For I must ne'er love him whom thou dost hate.



Then hate me when thou wilt; if ever, now;

Now while the world is bent my deeds to cross,

Join with the spite of fortune, make me bow,

And do not drop in for an after-loss:

Ah! do not, when my heart hath scap'd this sorrow,

Come in the rearward of a conquer'd woe;

Give not a windy night a rainy morrow,

To linger out a purpos'd overthrow.

If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last,

When other petty griefs have done their spite,

But in the onset come; so shall I taste

At first the very worst of fortune's might;

And other strains of woe, which now seem woe,

Compar'd with loss of thee will not seem so.



Some glory in their birth, some in their skill,

Some in their wealth, some in their body's force;

Some in their garments, though new-fangled ill;

Some in their hawks and hounds, some in their horse;

And every humour hath his adjunct pleasure,

Wherein it finds a joy above the rest;

But these particulars are not my measure,

All these I better in one general best.

Thy love is better than high birth to me,

Richer than wealth, prouder than garments' cost,

Of more delight than hawks and horses be;

And, having thee, of all men's pride I boast.

Wretched in this alone, that thou mayst take

All this away, and me most wretched make.


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