Some glory in their birth, some in their skill,
Some in their wealth, some in their body's force,
Some in their garments (though new-fangled ill),
Some in their hawks and hounds, some in their horse,
And every humour hath his adjunct pleasure
Wherein it finds a joy above the rest.
But these particulars are not my measure ;
All these I better in one general best.
Thy love is better than high birth to me,
Richer than wealth, prouder than garments' cost,
Of more delight than hawks or horses be,
And having thee of all men's pride I boast,
   Wretched in this alone : that thou mayst take
   All this away, and me most wretched make.

But do thy worst to steal thyself away,
For term of life thou art assurèd mine,
And life no longer than thy love will stay,
For it depends upon that love of thine.
Then need I not to fear the worst of wrongs
When in the least of them my life hath end.
I see a better state to me belongs
Than that which on thy humour doth depend.
Thou canst not vex me with inconstant mind,
Since that my life on they revolt doth lie.
O, what a happy title do I find -
Happy to have thy love, happy to die !
   But what's so blessèd fair that fears no blot ?
   Thou mayst be false, and yet I know it not.

So shall I live supposing thou art true
Like a deceivèd husband ; so love's face
May still seem love to me, though altered new -
Thy looks with me, thy heart in other place.
For there can live no hatred in thine eye,
Therefore in that I cannot know thy change.
In many's looks the false heart's history
Is writ in moods and frowns and wrinkles strange ;
But heaven in thy creation did decree
That in thy face sweet love should ever dwell ;
Whate'er thy thoughts or thy heart's workings be,
Thy looks should nothing thence but sweetness tell.
   How like Eve's apple doth thy beauty grow
   If thy sweet virtue answer not thy show !

They that have power to hurt and will do none,
That do not do the thing they most do show,
Who moving others are themselves as stone,
Unmovèd, cold, and to temptation slow -
They rightly do inherit heaven's graces,
And husband nature's riches from expense ;
They are the lords and owners of their faces,
Others but stewards of their excellence.
The summer's flower is to the summer sweet
Though to itself it only live and die,
But if that flower with base infection meet
The basest weed outbraves his dignity ;
   For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds :
   Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.

How sweet and lovely dost thou make the shame
Which, like a canker in the fragrant rose,
Doth spot the beauty of thy budding name !
O, in what sweets dost thou thy sins enclose !
That tongue that tells the story of thy days,
Making lascivious comments on thy sport,
Cannot dispraise, but in a kind of praise,
Naming thy name, blesses an ill report.
O, what a mansion have those vices got
Which for their habitation chose out thee,
Where beauty's veil doth cover every blot
And all things turns to fair that eyes can see !
   Take heed, dear heart, of this large privilege :
   The hardest knife ill used doth lose his edge.

Some say thy fault is youth, some wantonness ;
Some say thy grace is youth and gentle sport.
Both grace and faults are loved of more and less ;
Thou mak'st faults graces that to thee resort.
As on the finger of a thronèd queen
The basest jewel will be well esteemed,
So are those errors that in thee are seen
To truths translated and for true things deemed.
How many lambs might the stern wolf betray
If like a lamb he could his looks translate !
How many gazers mightst thou lead away
If thou wouldst use the strength of all thy state !
   But do not so : I love thee in such sort
   As, thou being mine, mine is thy good report.

How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year !
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen,
What old December's bareness everywhere !
And yet this time removed was summer's time,
The teeming autumn big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime
Like widowed wombs after their lord's decease.
Yet this abundant issue seemed to me
But hope of orphans and unfathered fruit,
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And thou away, the very birds are mute ;
   Or if they sing, 'tis with so dull a cheer
   That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's near.

From you have I been absent in the spring
When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,
Hath put a spirit of youth in everything,
That heavy Saturn laughed and leapt with him.
Yet nor the lays of birds nor the sweet smell
Of different flowers in odour and in hue
Could make me any summer's story tell,
Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew ;
Nor did I wonder at the lily's white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose.
They were but sweet, but figures of delight
Drawn after you, you pattern of all those ;
   Yet seemed it winter still, and, you away,
   As with your shadow I with these did play.

The forward violet thus did I chide :
Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells,
If not from my love's breath ? The purple pride
Which on thy soft cheek for complexion dwells
In my love's veins thou hast too grossly dyed.
The lily I condemnèd for thy hand,
And buds of marjoram had stol'n thy hair ;
The roses fearfully on thorns did stand,
One blushing shame, another white despair ;
A third, nor red nor white, had stol'n of both,
And to his robb'ry had annexed thy breath ;
But for his theft in pride of all his growth
A vengeful canker ate him up to death.
   More flowers I noted, yet I none could see
   But sweet or colour it had stol'n from thee.

Where art thou, muse, that thou forget'st so long
To speak of that which gives thee all thy might ?
Spend'st thou thy fury on some worthless song,
Dark'ning thy power to lend base subjects light ?
Return, forgetful muse, and straight redeem
In gentle numbers time so idly spent ;
Sing to the ear that doth thy lays esteem
And gives thy pen both skill and argument.
Rise, resty muse, my love's sweet face survey
If time have any wrinkle graven there.
If any, be a satire to decay
And make time's spoils despisèd everywhere.
   Give my love fame faster than time wastes life ;
   So, thou prevene'st his scythe and crookèd knife.
William Shakespeare | Classic Poems
Ariel's Songs





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