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Sonnets of William Shakespeare


But do thy worst to steal thyself away,

For term of life thou art assured mine;

And life no longer than thy love will stay,

For it depends upon that love of thine.

Then need I not to fear the worst of wrongs,

When in the least of them my life hath end.

I see a better state to me belongs

Than that which on thy humour doth depend;

Thou canst not vex me with inconstant mind,

Since that my life on thy revolt doth lie.

O what a happy title do I find,

Happy to have thy love, happy to die!

But what's so blessed-fair that fears no blot?―

Thou mayst be false, and yet I know it not:



So shall I live, supposing thou art true,

Like a deceived husband; so love's face

May still seem love to me, though alter'd new;

Thy looks with me, thy heart in other place:

For there can live no hatred in thine eye,

Therefore in that I cannot know thy change.

In many's looks the false heart's history

Is writ, in moods and frowns and wrinkles strange;

But heaven in thy creation did decree

That in thy face sweet love should ever dwell;

Whate'er thy thoughts or thy heart's workings be,

Thy looks should nothing thence but sweetness tell,

How like Eve's apple doth thy beauty grow,

If thy sweet virtue answer not thy show?



They have power to hurt and will do none,

That do not do the thing they most do show,

Who, moving others, are themselves as stone,

Unmoved, cold, and to temptation slow;

They rightly do inherit Heaven's graces,

And husband nature's riches from expense;

They are the lords and owners of their faces,

Others but stewards of their excellence.

The summer's flower is to the summer sweet

Though to itself it only live and die;

But if that flower with base infection meet,

The basest weed outbraves his dignity:

For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds:

Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.



How sweet and lovely dost thou make the shame,

Which, like a canker in the fragrant rose,

Doth spot the beauty of thy budding name!

O, in what sweets dost thou thy sins enclose!

That tongue that tells the story of thy days,

Making lascivious comments on thy sport,

Cannot dispraise but in a kind of praise:

Naming thy name blesses an ill report.

O, what a mansion have those vices got

Which for their habitation chose out thee!

Where beauty's veil doth cover every blot,

And all things turn to fair, that eyes can see!

Take heed, dear heart, of this large privilege;

The hardest knife ill-used doth lose his edge.



Some say thy fault is youth, some wantonness;

Some say thy grace is youth and gentle sport;

Both grace and faults are lov'd of more and less:

Thou mak'st faults graces that to thee resort.

As on the finger of a throned queen

The basest jewel will be well-esteem'd;

So are so errors that in thee are seen

To truths translated, and for true things deem'd.

How many lambs might the stern wolf betray,

If like a lamb he could his looks translate!

How many gazers mightst thou lead away,

If thou wouldst use the strength of all thy state!

But do not so; I love thee in such sort,

As, thou being mine, mine is thy good report.



How like a winter hath my absence been

From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!

What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!

What old December's bareness everywhere!

And yet this time remov'd was summer's time,

The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,

Bearing the wanton burden of the prime,

Like widow'd wombs after their lords' decease;

Yet this abundant issue seem'd to me

But hope of orphans, and unfather'd fruit;

For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,

And, thou away, the very birds are mute;

Or, if they sing, 'tis with so dull a cheer,

That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's near.



From you have I been absent in the spring,

When proud-pied April, dress'd in all his trim,

Hath put a spirit of youth in everything,

That heavy Saturn laugh'd and leap'd with him.

Yet nor the lays of birds, not the sweet smell

Of different flowers in odour and in hue,

Could make me any summer's story tell,

Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew:

Nor did I wonder at the lilies white,

Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;

They were but sweet, but figures of delight,

Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.

Yet seem'd it winter still, and you, away,

As with your shadow I with these did play.


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