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Sonnets of William Shakespeare

XXII

My glass shall not persuade me I am old,

So long as youth and thou are of one date;

But when in thee time's furrows I behold,

Then look I death my days should expiate.

For all that beauty that doth cover thee

Is but the seemly raiment of my heart,

Which in thy breast doth live, as thine in me;

How can I then be elder than thou art?

O therefore, love, be of thyself so wary,

As I not for myself but for thee will;

Bearing thy heart, which I shall keep so chary

As tender nurse her babe from faring ill.

Presume not on thy heart when mine is slain;

Thou gav'st me thine, not to give back again.

 

XXIII

As an unperfect actor on the stage,

Who with his fear is put besides his part,

Or some fierce thing replete with too much rage,

Whose strength's abundance weakens his own heart;

So I, for fear of trust, forget to say

The perfect ceremony of love's rite,

And in mine own love's strength seem to decay,

O'ercharg'd with burthen of mine own love's might.

O let my books be, then, the eloquence

And dumb presagers of my speaking breast;

Who plead for love, and look for recompense

More than that tongue that more hath more express'd.

O learn to read what silent love hath writ:

To hear with eyes belongs to love's fine wit.

 

XXIV

Mine eye hath play'd the painter, and hath stell'd

Thy beauty's form in table of my heart;

My body is the frame wherein 'tis held,

And perspective it is best painter's art.

For through the painter must you see his skill,

To find where your true image pictur'd lies,

Which in my bosom's shop is hanging still,

That hath his windows glazed with thine eyes.

Now see what good turns eyes for eyes have done:

Mine eyes have drawn thy shape, and thine for me

Are windows to my breast where-through the sun

Delights to peep, to gaze therein on thee;

Yet eyes to cunning want to grace their art,

They draw but what they see, know not the heart.

 

XXV

Let those who are in favor with their stars,

Of public honour and proud titles boast,

Whilst I, whom fortune of such triumph bars,

Unlook'd for joy in that I honour most.

Great princes' favourites their fair leaves spread

But as the marigold at the sun's eye;

And in themselves their pride lies buried,

For at a frown they in their glory die.

The painful warrior famoused for fight,

After a thousand victories once foil'd,

Is from the book of honour razed quite.

And all the rest forgot for which he toil'd:

Then happy I, that love and am belov'd

Where I may not remove, nor be remov'd.

 

XXVI

Lord of my love, to whom in vassalage

Thy merit hath my duty strongly knit,

To thee I send this written embassage,

To witness duty, not to show my wit.

Duty so great, which wit so poor as mine

May make seem bare, in wanting words to show it;

But that I hope some good conceit of thine

In thy soul's thought, all naked, will bestow it:

Till whatsoever star that guides by moving,

Points on me graciously with fair aspect,

And puts apparel on my tatter'd loving,

To show me worthy of thy sweet respect:

Then may I dare to boast how I do love thee,

Till then, not show my head where thou mayst prove me.

 

XXVII

Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,

The dear repose for limbs with travel tir'd;

But then begins a journey in my head,

To work my mind, when body's work's expir'd:

For then my thoughts (from far where I abide)

Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,

And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,

Looking on darkness which the blind do see:

Save that my soul's imaginary sight

Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,

Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,

Makes black night beauteous, and her old face new,

Lo, thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind

For thee, and for myself, no quiet find.

 

XXVIII

How can I then return in happy plight,

That am debarr'd the benefit of rest?

When day's oppression is not eased by night,

But day by night and night by day oppress'd?

And each, though enemies to either's reign,

Do in consent shake hands to torture me,

The one by toil, the other to complain

How far I toil, still farther off from thee.

I tell the day, to please him, thou are bright,

And dost him grace when clouds do blot the heaven:

So flatter I the swart-complexion'd night;

When sparkling stars twire not, thou gild'st the even.

But day both daily draw my sorrows longer,

And night doth nightly make grief's strength seem stronger.

 

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