'Tis better to be vile than vile esteemed
When not to be receives reproach of being,
And the just pleasure lost, which is so deemed
Not by our feeling but by others' seeing.
For why should other's false adulterate eyes
Give salutation to my sportive blood ?
Or on my frailties why are frailer spies,
Which in their wills count bad what I think good ?
No, I am that I am, and they that level
At my abuses reckon up their own.
I may be straight, though they themselves be bevel ;
By their rank thoughts my deeds must not be shown,
   Unless this general evil they maintain :
   All men are bad and in their badness reign.

Thy gifts, thy tables, are within my brain
Full charactered with lasting memory,
Which shall above that idle rank remain
Beyond all date, even to eternity ;
Or at the least so long as brain and heart
Have faculty by nature to subsist,
Till each to razed oblivion yield his part
Of thee, thy record never can be missed.
That poor retention could not so much hold,
Nor need I tallies thy dear love to score ;
Therefore to give them from me was I bold,
To trust those tables that receive thee more.
   To keep an adjunct to remember thee
   Were to import forgetfulness in me.

No, time, thou shalt not boast that I do change !
Thy pyramids built up with newer might
To me are nothing novel, nothing strange,
They are but dressings of a former sight.
Our dates are brief, and therefore we admire
What thou dost foist upon us that is old,
And rather make them born to our desire
Than think that we before have heard them told.
Thy registers and thee I both defy,
Not wond'ring at the present nor the past ;
For thy records and what we see doth lie,
Made more or less by thy continual haste.
   This I do vow, and this shall ever be :
   I will be true despite thy scythe and thee.

If my dear love were but the child of state
It might for fortune's bastard be unfathered,
As subject to time's love or to time's hate,
Weeds among weeds or flowers with flowers gathered.
No, it was builded far from accident ;
It suffers not in smiling pomp, nor falls
Under the blow of thrallèd discontent
Whereto th'inviting time our fashion calls.
It fears not policy, that heretic
Which works on leases of short-numbered hours,
But all along stands hugely politic,
That it nor grows with heat nor drowns with showers.
   To this I witness call the fools of time,
   Which die for goodness, who have lived for crime.

Were't aught to me I bore the canopy,
With my extern the outward honouring,
Or laid great bases for eternity
Which proves more short than waste or ruining ?
Have I not seen dwellers on form and favour
Lose all and more by paying too much rent,
For compound sweet forgoing simple savour,
Pitiful thrivers in their gazing spent ?
No, let me be obsequious in thy heart,
And take thou my oblation, poor but free,
Which is not mixed with seconds, knows no art
But mutual render, only me for thee.
   Hence, thou suborned informer ! A true soul
   When most impeached stands least in thy control.

O thou my lovely boy, who in thy power
Dost hold time's fickle glass, his sickle-hour ;
Who hast by waning grown, and therein show'st
Thy lovers withering as thy sweet self grow'st -
If nature, sovereign mistress over wrack,
As thou goest onwards still will pluck thee back,
She keeps thee to this purpose : that her skill
May time disgrace, and wretched minutes kill.
Yet fear her, O thou minion of her pleasure !
She may detain but not still keep her treasure.
   Her audit, though delayed, answered must be,
   And her quietus is to render thee.

In the old age black was not counted fair,
Or if it were, it bore not beauty's name ;
But now is black beauty's successive heir,
And beauty slandered with a bastard shame :
For since each hand hath put on nature's power,
Fairing the foul with art's false borrowed face,
Sweet beauty hath no name, no holy bower,
But is profaned, if not lives in disgrace.
Therefore my mistress' eyes are raven-black,
Her brow so suited, and they mourners seem
At such who, not born fair, no beauty lack,
Sland'ring creation with a false esteem.
   Yet so they mourn, becoming of their woe,
   That every tongue says beauty should look so.

How oft, when thou, my music, music play'st
Upon that blessèd wood whose motion sounds
With thy sweet fingers when thou gently sway'st
The wiry concord that mine ear confounds,
Do I envy those jacks that nimble leap
To kiss the tender inward of thy hand
Whilst my poor lips, which should that harvest reap,
At the wood's boldness by thee blushing stand !
To be so tickled they would change their state
And situation with those dancing chips
O'er whom thy fingers walk with gentle gait,
Making dead wood more blessed than living lips.
   Since saucy jacks so happy are in this,
   Give them thy fingers, me thy lips to kiss.

Th'expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action ; and till action, lust
Is perjured, murd'rous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,
Enjoyed no sooner but despisèd straight,
Past reason hunted, and no sooner had
Past reason hated as a swallowed bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad ;
Mad in pursuit and in possession so,
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme ;
A bliss in proof and proved, a very woe ;
Before, a joy proposed ; behind, a dream.
   All this the world well knows, yet none knows well
   To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun ;
Coral is far more red then her lips' red.
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun ;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks ;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound.
I grant I never saw a goddess go :
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
   And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
   As any she belied with false compare.
William Shakespeare | Classic Poems
Ariel's Songs





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