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Sonnets of William Shakespeare

L

How heavy do I journey on my way,

When what I seek—my weary travel's end—

Doth teach that ease and that repose to say,

'Thus far the miles were measur'd from thy friend!'

The beast that bears me, tired with my woe,

Plods dully on, to bear that weight in me,

As if by some instinct the wretch did know

His rider lov'd no speed, being made from thee:

The bloody spur cannot provoke him on

That sometimes anger thrusts into his hide,

Which heavily he answers with a groan,

More sharp to me than spurring at his side;

For that same groan doth put this in my mind,

My grief lies onward, and my joy behind.

 

LI

Thus can my love excuse the slow offence

Of my dull bearer, when from thee I speed:

From where thou art why should I haste me thence?

Till I return, of posting is no need.

O what excuse will my poor beast then find,

When swift extremity can seem but slow?

Then should I spur, though mounted on the wind;

In winged speed no motion shall I know:

Then can no horse with my desire keep pace;

Therefore desire, of perfect'st love being made,

Shall neigh (no dull flesh) in his fiery race;

But love, for love, shall excuse my jade;

Since from thee going he went wilful slow,

Towards thee I'll run, and give him leave to go.

 

LII

So am I as the rich, whose blessed key

Can bring him to his sweet up-locked treasure,

The which he will not every hour survey,

For blunting the fine point of seldom pleasure.

Therefore are feasts so solemn and so rare,

Since seldom coming, in the long year set,

Like stones of worth they thinly placed are,

Or captain jewels in the carcanet.

So is the time that keeps you, in my chest,

Or as the wardrobe which the robe doth hide,

To make some special instant special-blest,

By new unfolding his imprison'd pride.

Blessed are you, whose worthiness gives scope,

Being had, to triumph, being lack'd, to hope.

 

LIII

What is your substance, whereof are you made,

That millions of strange shadows on you tend?

Since every one hath, every one, one's shade,

And you, but one, can every shadow lend.

Describe Adonis, and the counterfeit

Is poorly imitated after you:

On Helen's cheek all art of beauty set,

And you in Grecian tires are painted new:

Speak of the spring, and foison of the year;

The one doth shadow of your beauty show,

The other as your bounty doth appear,

And you in every blessed shape we know.

In all external grace you have some part,

But you like none, none you, for constant heart.

 

LIV

O how much doth beauty beauteous seem,

By that sweet ornament which truth doth give.

The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem

For that sweet odour which doth in it live.

The cankor-blooms have full as deep a dye

As the perfumed tincture of the roses,

Hang on such thorns, and play as wantonly

When summer's breath their masked buds discloses:

But, for their virtue only is their show,

They live unwoo'd, and unrespected fade;

Die to themselves. Sweet roses do not so;

Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odours made:

And so of you, beauteous and lovely youth,

When that shall fade, by verse distils your truth.

 

LV

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments

Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;

But you shall shine more bright in these contents

Than unswept stone, besmear'd with sluttish time.

When wasteful war shall statues overturn,

And broils root out the work of masonry,

Nor Mars his sword nor war's quick fire shall burn

The living record of your memory.

'Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity

Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room,

Even in the eyes of all posterity

That wear this world out to the ending doom.

So, till the judgement that yourself arise,

You live in this, and dwell in lovers' eyes.

 

LVI

Sweet love, renew thy force; be it not said,

Thy edge should blunter be than appetite,

Which but to-day by feeding is allay'd,

To-morrow sharpen'd in his former might:

So, love, be thou; although to-day thou fill

Thy hungry eyes, even till they wink with fulness,

To-morrow see again, and do not kill

The spirit of love with a perpetual dulness.

Let this sad interim like the ocean be

Which parts the shore, where two contracted-new

Come daily to the banks, that, when they see

Return of love, more blest may be the view;

Or call it winter, which, being full of care,

Makes summer's welcome thrice more wish'd, more rare.

 

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