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Sonnets of William Shakespeare


When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see,

For all the day they view things unrespected;

But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,

And, darkly bright, are bright in dark directed;

Then thou whose shadow shadows doth make bright,

How would thy shadow's form form happy show

To the clear day with thy much clearer light,

When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so!

How would (I say) mine eyes be blessed made

By looking on thee in the living day,

When in dead night thy fair and perfect shade

Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth stay?

All days are nights to see, till I see thee,

And nights, bright days, when dreams do show thee me.



If the dull substance of my flesh were thought,

Injurious distance should not stop my way;

For then, despite of space, I would be brought

From limits far remote, where thou dost stay.

No matter then, although my foot did stand

Upon the farthest earth remov'd from thee,

For nimble thought can jump both sea and land,

As soon as think the place where he would be.

But ah! thought kills me, that I am not thought,

To leap large lengths of miles when thou art gone,

But that, so much of earth and water wrought,

I must attend time's leisure with my moan;

Receiving nought but elements so slow

But heavy tears, badges of either's woe:



The other two, slight air and purging fire,

Are both with thee, wherever I abide;

The first my thought, the other my desire,

These present-absent with swift motion slide.

For when these quicker elements are gone

In tender embassy of love to thee,

My life, being made of four, with two alone

Sinks down to death, oppress'd with melancholy;

Until life's composition be recur'd

By those swift messengers return'd from thee,

Who even but now come back again, assur'd

Of thy fair health, recounting it to me:

This told, I joy; but then no longer glad,

I send them back again, and straight grow sad.



Mine eye and heart are at a mortal war,

How to divide the conquest of thy sight;

Mine eye my heart thy picture's sight would bar,

My heart mine eye the freedom of that right.

My heart doth plead that thou in him dost lie,

(A closet never pierc'd with crystal eyes,)

But the defendant doth that plea deny,

And says in him thy fair appearance lies.

To 'cide this title is impannelled

A quest of thoughts, all tenants to the heart;

And by their verdict is determined

The clear eye's moiety, and the dear heart's part:

As thus, mine eye's due is thine outward part,

And my heart's right thine inward love of heart



Betwixt mine eye and heart a league is took,

And each doth good turns now unto the other:

When that mine eye is famish'd for a look,

Or heart in love with sighs himself doth smother,

With my love's picture then my eye doth feast,

And to the painted banquet bids my heart;

Another time mine eye is my heart's guest,

And in his thoughts of love doth share a part:

So, either by thy picture or my love,

Thyself away art present still with me;

For thou not farther than my thoughts canst move,

And I am still with them, and they with with thee;

Or if they sleep, thy picture in my sight

Awakes my heart to heart's and eye's delight.



How careful was I when I took my way,

Each trifle under truest bars to thrust,

That, to my use, it might unused stay

From hands of falsehood, in sure wards of trust!

But thou, to whom my jewels trifles are,

Most worthy comfort, now my greatest grief,

Thou, best of dearest, and mine only care,

Are left the prey of every vulgar thief.

The have I not lock'd up in any chest,

Save where thou art not, though I feel thou art,

Within the gentle closure of my breast,

From whence at pleasure thou mayst come and part;

And even thence thou wilt be stolen I fear,

For truth proves thievish for a prize so dear.



Against that time, if ever that time come,

When I shall see thee frown on my defects,

Whenas thy love hath cast his utmost sum,

Call'd to that audit by advis'd respects;

Against that time, when thou shalt strangely pass,

And scarcely greet me with that sun, thine eye,

When love, converted from the thing it was,

Shall reasons find of settled gravity;

Against that time do I esconce me here

Within the knowledge of mine own desert,

And this my hand against myself uprear,

To guard the lawful reasons on thy part:

To leave poor me thou hast the strength of laws,

Since, why to love, I can allege no cause.


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