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Sonnets of William Shakespeare

LVII

Being your slave, what should I do but tend

Upon the hours and times of your desire?

I have no precious time at all to spend,

Nor services to do, till you require.

Nor dare I chide the world-without-end hour,

Whilst I, my sovereign, watch the clock for you,

Nor think the bitterness of absence sour,

When you have bid your servant once adieu;

Nor dare I question with my jealous thought

Where you may be, or your affairs suppose,

But, like a sad slave, stay and think of nought,

Save, where you are how happy you make those:

So true a fool is love, that in your will

(Though you do anything) he thinks no ill.

 

LVIII

That God forbid, that made me first your slave,

I should in thought control your times of pleasure,

Or at your hand the account of hours to crave,

Being your vassal, bound to stay your leisure!

O, let me suffer (being at your beck)

The imprison'd absence of your liberty,

And patience, tame to sufferance, bide each check

Without accusing you of injury.

Be where you list; your charter is so strong,

That you yourself may privilege your time:

Do what you will, to you it doth belong

Yourself to pardon of self-doing crime.

I am to wait, though waiting so be hell;

Not blame your pleasure, be it ill or well.

 

LIX

If there be nothing new, but that which is

Hath been before, how are our brains beguil'd,

Which labouring for invention bear amiss

The second burthen of a former child!

O, that record could with a backward look,

Even of five hundred courses of the sun,

Show me your image in some antique book,

Since mind at first in character was done!

That I might see what the old world could say

To this composed wonder of your frame;

Whether we are mended, or whe'r better they,

Or whether revolution be the same.

O! sure I am, the wits of former days

To subjects worse have given admiring praise.

 

LX

Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,

So do our minutes hasten to their end;

Each changing place with that which goes before.

In sequent toil all forwards do contend.

Nativity, once in the main of light,

Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown'd,

Crooked eclipses 'gainst his glory fight,

And Time, that gave, doth now his gift confound.

Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth,

And delves the parallels in beauty's brow;

Feeds on the rarities of nature's truth,

And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow.

And yet, to times in hope, my verse shall stand,

Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.

 

LXI

Is it thy will thy image should keep open

My heavy eyelids to the weary night?

Dost thou desire my slumbers should be broken,

While shadows, like to thee, do mock my sight?

Is it thy spirit that thou send'st from thee

So far from home, into my deeds to pry;

To find out shames and idle hours in me,

The scope and tenor of thy jealousy?

O no! thy love, though much, is not so great;

It is my love that keeps mine eye awake;

Mine own true love that doth my rest defeat,

To play the watchman ever for thy sake:

For thee watch I, whilst thou dost wake elsewhere,

From me far off, with others all-too-near.

 

LXII

Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye,

And all my soul, and all my every part;

And for this sin there is no remedy,

It is so grounded inward in my heart.

Methinks no face so gracious is as mine,

No shape so true, no truth of such account,

And for myself mine own worth to define,

As I all other in all worths surmount.

But when my glass shows me myself indeed,

Beated and chopp'd with tann'd antiquity,

Mine own self-love quite contrary I read,

Self so self-loving were iniquity.

'Tis thee (myself) that for myself I praise,

Painting my age with beauty of thy days.

 

LXIII

Against my love shall be, as I am now,

With Time's injurious hand crush'd and o'erworn;

When hours have drain'd his blood, and fill'd his brow

With lines and wrinkles; when his youthful morn

Hath travell'd on to age's steepy night;

And all those beauties, whereof now he's king,

Are vanishing or vanish'd out of sight,

Stealing away the treasure of his spring;

For such a time do I now fortify

Against confounding age's cruel knife,

That he shall never cut from memory

My sweet love's beauty, though my lover's life.

His beauty shall in these black lines be seen,

And they shall live, and he in them, still green.

 

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