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Sonnets of William Shakespeare


The forward violet thus did I chide;

Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells,

If not from my love's breath? The purple pride

Which on thy soft cheek for complexion dwells,

In my love's veins thou hast too grossly dy'd,

The lily I condemned for thy hand,

And buds of marjoram had stolen thy hair:

The roses fearfully on thorns did stand,

One blushing shame, another white despair;

A third, nor red nor white, had stolen of both,

And to his robbery had annex'd thy breath;

But for his theft, in pride of all his growth

A vengeful canker eat him up to death.

More flowers I noted, yet I none could see,

But sweet or colour it had stolen from thee.



Where art thou, Muse, that thou forgett'st so long

To speak of that which gives thee all thy might?

Spend'st thou thy fury on some worthless song,

Darkening thy power, to lend base subjects light?

Return, forgetful Muse, and straight redeem

In gentle numbers time so idly spent;

Sing to the ear that doth thy lays esteem,

And gives thy pen both skill and argument.

Rise, resty Muse, my love's sweet face survey,

If Time have any wrinkle graven there;

If any, be a satire to decay,

And make Time's spoils despised everywhere.

Give my love fame faster than Time wastes life;

So thou prevent'st his scythe and crooked knife.



O truant Muse, what shall be thy amends

For thy neglect of truth in beauty dy'd?

Both truth and beauty on my love depends;

So dost thou too, and therein dignified.

Make answer, Muse: wilt thou not haply say,

'Truth needs no colour with his colour fix'd,

Beauty no pencil, beauty's truth to lay;

But best is best, if never intermix'd?'―

Because he needs no praise, wilt thou be dumb?

Excuse not silence so; for it lies in thee

To make him much outlive a gilded tomb,

And be prais'd of ages yet to be.

Then do thy office, Muse; I teach thee how

To make him seem long hence as he shows now.



My love is strengthen'd, though more weak in seeming;

I love not less, though less the show appear;

That love is merchandiz'd whose rich esteeming

The owner's tongue doth publish everywhere.

Our love was new, and then but in the spring,

When I was won't to greet it with my lays;

As Philomel in summer's front doth sing,

And stops her pipe in growth of riper days:

Not that the summer is less pleasant now

Than when her mournful hymns did hush the night,

But that wild music burthens every bough,

And sweets grown common lose their dear delight.

Therefore, like her, I sometime hold my tongue,

Because I would not dull you with my song.



Alack! what poverty my Muse brings forth,

That having such a scope to show her pride,

The argument all bare, is of more worth,

Than when it hath my added praise beside.

O blame me not if I no more can write!

Look in your glass, and there appears a face

That over-goes my blunt invention quite,

Dulling my lines, and doing me disgrace.

Were it not sinful, then, striving to mend,

To mar the subject that before was well?

For to no other pass my verses tend,

Than of your graces and your gifts to tell;

And more, much more, than in my verse can sit,

Your own glass shows you, when you look in it.



To me, fair friend, you never can be old,

For as you were when first your eye I eyed,

Such seems your beauty still. Three winters' cold

Have from the forests shook three summers' pride;

Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turn'd

In process of the seasons have I see;

Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burn'd,

Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green.

Ah! yet doth beauty, like a dial-hand,

Steal from his figure, and no pace perceiv'd;

So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand,

Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceiv'd.

For fear of which, hear this , thou age unbred,

Ere you were born, was beauty's summer dead.



Let not my love be called idolatry,

Nor my beloved as an idol show,

Since all alike my songs and praises be,

To one, of one, still such, and ever so.

Kind is my love to-day, to-morrow kind,

Still constant in a wondrous excellence;

Therefore my verse, to constancy confin'd,

One thing expressing, leaves out difference.

Fair, kind, and true, is all my argument,

Fair, kind, and true, varying to other words;

And in this change is my invention spent,

Three themes in one, which wondrous scope affords.

Fair, kind, and true, have often liv'd alone,

Which three, till now, never kept seat in one


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