Speak of my lameness, and I straight will
Against thy reasons making no defence.
Thou canst not, love, disgrace me half so ill,
To set a form upon desired change,
As I '11 myself disgrace : knowing thy will,
I will acquaintance strangle, and look strange ;
Be absent from thy walks ; and in my tongue
Thy sweet-beloved name no more shall dwell,
Lest I, too much profane, should do it wrong,
And haply of our old acquaintance tell.
For thee, against myself I '11 vow debate,
For I must ne'er love him whom thou dost hate.
Then hate me when thou wilt ; if ever, now ;
Now, while the world is bent my deeds to cross,
Join with the spite of fortune, make me bow,
And do not drop in for an after-loss :
Ah, do not, when my heart hath scap'd this
Come in the rearward of a conquer'd woe;
Give not a windy night a rainy morrow,
To linger out a purpos'd overthrow.
If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last,
When other petty griefs have done their spite,
But in the onset come : so shall I taste
At first the very worst of fortune's might ;
And other strains of woe, which now seem woe,
Compar'd with loss of thee will not seem so.
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
And every humour hath his adjunct pleasure,
Wherein it finds a joy aboye 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 assured 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 thy revolt doth lie.
O, what a happy title do I find,
Happy to have thy love, happy to die !
But what's so blessed-fair that fears no
Thou mayst be false, and yet I know it not.
So shall I live, supposing thou art true,
Like a deceived husband ; so love's face
May still seem love to me, though alter' d 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
Iswrit in moods, and frowns, and wrinklesstrange,
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,
Thylooksshouldnothing thence butsweetness 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,
Unmoved, 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
Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.
How sweet and lovely dost thou make the
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 turn to fair that eyes can see !
Take heed, dear heart, of this large privi-
The hard'est knife ill-used doth lose his edge.
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 remov'd was summer's time ;
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime,
Like widow' d wombs after their lords' decease;
Yet this abundant issue seem'd to me
But hope of orphans, and unfather'd 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
From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April, dress'd in all his trim,'
Hath put a spirit of youth in everything,
That heavy Saturn laugh'd and leap'd 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
Nor did I wonder at the lilies 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 seem'd it winter still, and, you away,
As with your shadow I with these did pfay :
The forward violet thus did I chide :
Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet
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 condemned 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 robbery had annex'd thy breath ;
But, for his theft, in pride of all his growth
A vengeful canker eat him up to death.
More flowers I noted, yet I none could see
But sweet or colour it had stol'n from thee.
Some say thy fault is youth, some wantonness;
Some say thy grace is youth and gentle sport ;
Both grace and faults are lov'd of more and less :
Thou makest faults graces that to thee resort.
As on the finger of a throned queen
The basest jewel will be well esteem'd,
So are those errors that in thee are seen
To truths translated, and for true things deem'd.
How many lambs might the stern wolf betray,
If like a lamb he could his looks translate !
How many ga.zers 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.
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,
Darkening 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 despised every where.
Give my love fame faster than Time wastes life ;
So thou prevent' st his scythe and crooked knife.
truant Muse, what shall be thy amends
For thy neglect of truth in beauty dyed ?
Both truth and beauty on my love depends ;
So dost thou too, and therein dignified.
Make answer, Muse, wilt thou not haply say :
Truth needs no colour, with his colour fix' d ;
Beauty no pencil, beauty's truth to lay ;
But best is best, if never intermixed ?
Because he needs no praise, wilt thou be
Excuse not silence so ; for 't lies in thee
To make him much outlive a gilded tomb
And to be prais'd of ages yet to be.
Then do thy office, Muse ; I teach thee how
To make him seem long hence as he shows now.
My love is strengthen' d, though more weak in
1 love not less, though less the show appear ;
That love is merchandiz'd, whose rich esteeming
The owner's tongue doth publish everywhere.
Our love was new, and then but in the spring,
When I was wont to greet it with my lays ;
As Philomel in summer's front doth sing,
And stops her pipe in growth of riper days ;
Not that the summer is less pleasant now
Than when her mournful h y mns did hush the night,
But that wild music burthens every bough,
And sweets grown common lose their dear delight.
Therefore, like her, I sometimes hold my tongue,
Because I would not dull you with my song.
Alack, what poverty my Muse brings forth,
That having such a scope to show her pride,
The argument, all bare, is of more worth,
Than when it hath my added praise beside !
O, blame me not, if I no more can write !
Look in your glass, and there appears a face
That over-goes my blunt invention quite,
Dulling my lines and doing me disgrace.
Were it not sinful then, striving to mend,
To mar the subject that before was well ?
For to no other pass my verses tend
Than of your graces and your gifts to tell ;
And more, much more, than in my verse can
Your own glass shows you when you look in it.
To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I eyed,
Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold
Have from the forests shook three summers' pride,
Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turn'd
In process of the seasons have I seen,
Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burn'd,
Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green.
Ah, yet doth beauty, like a dial-hand,
Steal from his figure, and no pace perceived ;
So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth
Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceived ;
For fear of which, hear this, thou age unbred,
Ere you were born, was beauty's summer dead.
Let not my love be call'd idolatry,
Nor my beloved as an idol show,
Since all alike my songs and praises be
To one, of one, still such, and ever so.
Kind is my love to-day, to-morrow kind,
Still constant in a wondrous excellence ;
Therefore my verse to constancy confin'd,
One thing expressing, leaves out difference.
Fair, kind, and true, is all my argument,
Fair, kind, and true, varying to other words ;
And in this change is my invention spent,
Three themes in one, which wondrous scope
Fair, kind, and true, have often liv'd alone,
Which three, till now, never kept seat in one.
When in the chronicle of wasted time
I see descriptions of the fairest wights,
And beauty making beautiful old rhyme
In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights,
Then, in the blazon of sweet beauty's best,
Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow,
I see their antique pen would have express'd
Even such a beauty as you master now.
So all their praises are but prophecies
Of this our time, all you prefiguring;
And, for they look'd but with divining eyes,
They had not skill enough your worth to sing ;
For we, which now behold these present days,
Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to
Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul
Of the wide world dreaming on things to come,
Can yet the lease of my true love control,
Supposed as forfeit to a confined doom.
The mortal moon hath her eclipse endured,
And the sad augurs mock their own presage ;
Incertainties now crown themselves assured,
And peace proclaims olives of endless age.
Now with the drops of this most balmy time
My love looks fresh, and Death to me subscribes,
Since, spite of him, I '11 live in this poor rhyme,
While he insults o'er dull and speechless tribes ;
And thou in this shalt find thy monument,
When tyrants' crests and tombs of brass are
What 's in the brain, that ink may character,
Which hath not figur'd to thee my true spirit ?
What 's new to speak, what new to register,
That may express my love, or thy dear merit ?
Nothing, sweet boy ; but yet, like prayers divine,
I must each day say o'er the very same ;
Counting no old thing old, thou mine, I thine,
Even as when first I hallowed thy fair name.
So that eternal love in love's fresh case
Weighs not the dust and injury of age,
Nor gives to necessary wrinkles place,
But makes antiquity for aye his page ;
Finding the first conceit of love there bred,
Where time and outward form would show it
O, never say that I was false of heart,
Though absence seem'd my flame to qualify,
As easy might I from myself depart
As from my soul, which iu thy breast doth lie :
That is my home of love : if I have rang'd,
Like him that travels, I return again ;
Just to the time, not with the time exchanged,
So that myself bring water for my stain.
Never believe, though in my nature reigned
All frailties that besiege all kinds of blood,
That it could so preposterously be stained,
To leave for nothing all thy sum of good ;
For nothing this wide universe I call,
Save thou, my rose ; in it thou art my all.
Since I left you, mine eye is in my mind,
And that which governs me to go about
Doth part his function and is partly blind,
Seems seeing, but effectually is out ;
For it no form delivers to the heart
Of bird, of flower, or shape, which it doth latch ;
Of his quick objects hath the mind no part,
Nor his own vision holds what it doth catch ;
For if it see the rud'st or gentlest sight,
The most sweet favour, or deformed' st creature,
The mountain or the sea, the day or night,
The crow or dove, it shapes them to your feature ;
Incapable of more, replete with you,
My most true mind thus maketh mine untrue.
Alas ! 'tis true I have gone here and there,
And made myself a motley to the view,
Gor'd mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is
Made old offences of affections new ;
Most true it is that I have look'd on truth
Askance and strangely : but, by all above,
These blenches gave my heart another youth,
And worse essays prov'd thee my best of love.
Now all is done, save what shall have no end ;
Mine appetite I never more Avill grind
On newer proof, to try an older friend,
A god in love, to whom I am confin'd.
Then give me welcome, next my heaven the best,
Even to thy pure and most most loving breast.
0, for my sake do you with Fortune chide,
The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds,
That did not better for my life provide
Than public means which public manners breeds.
Thence comes it that my name receives a brand,
And almost thence my nature is subdued
To what it works in, like the dyer's hand ;
Pity me, then, and wish I were renew' d :
Whilst, like a willing patient, I will drink
Potions of eisel 'gainst my strong infection;
No bitterness that I will bitter think,
Nor double penance, to correct correction.
Pity me, then, dear friend, and I assure ye,
Even that your pity is enough to cure me.
Your love and pity doth th' impression fill
Which vulgar scandal stamp' d upon my brow ;
For what care I who calls me well or ill,
So you o'ergreeu my bad, my good allow ?
You are my all-the-world, and I must strive
To know my shames and praises from your
None else to me, nor I fco none alive,
That my steel' d sense or changes right or
In so profound abysm I throw all care
Of other's voiivs, that my adder's sense
To critic and to flatterer stopped are.
Mark how with my neglect I do dispense ;
You are so strongly in my purpose bred,
That all the world besides methinks are dead.
Or whether doth my mind, being crown' d witt
Drink up the monarch's plague, this flattery?
Or whether shall I say, mine eye saith true,
And that your love taught it this alchemy,,
To make of monsters and things indigest
Such cherubins as your sweet self resemble,
Creating every bad a perfect best,
As fast as objects to his beams assemble ?
O, 'tis the first ; 'tis flattery in my seeing,
And my great mind most kingly drinks it up :
Mine eye well knows what with his gustis'greeing,
And to his palate doth prepare the cup :
If it be poison' d, 'tis the lesser sin
That mine eye loves it, and doth first begin.
Those lines that I before have writ, do lie,
Even those that said I could not love you dearer;
Yet then my judgment knew no reason why
My most full flame should afterwards burn clearer.
But reckoning Time, whose million'd accidents
Creep in 'twixt vows, and change decrees of kings,
Tan sacred beauty, blunt the sharp'st intents,
Divert strong minds to the course of altering
Alas, why, fearing of Time's tyranny,
Might I not then say, Now I love you best,
When I was certain o'er incertainty,
Crowning the present, doubting of the rest ?
Love is a babe ; then might I not say so,
To give full growth to that which still doth grow ?
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove ;
O, no ! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken ;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and
Within his bending sickle's compass come ;
Lo\v alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error, and upon me prov'd,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.
Accuse me thus : that I have scanted all
Wherein 1 should your great deserts repay,
Forgot upon your dearest love to call,
Whereto all bonds do tie me day by day ;
That I have frequent been with unknown minds,
And given to time your own dear-purchas'd right ;
That I have hoisted sail to all the winds
Which should transport me farthest from your
Book both my wilfulness and errors down,
And on just proof surmise accumulate ;
Bring me within the level of your frown,
But shoot not at me in your waken'd hate :
Since my appeal says I did strive to prove
The constancy and virtue of your love.
Like as, to make our appetites more keen,
With eager compounds we our palate urge ;
As, to prevent our maladies unseen,
We sicken to shun sickness when we purge ;
Even so, being full of your ne'er-cloying sweetness,
To bitter sauces did I frame my feeling ;
And, sick of welfare, found a kind of ineetness
To be diseased, ere that there was true needing.
Thus policy in love, to anticipate
The ills that were not, grew to faults assured,
And brought to medicine a heathful state,
Which, rank of goodness, would by ill be cur'd ; '
But thence I learn, and find the lesson true,
Drugs poison him that so fell sick of you.
What potions have I drunk of Siren tears,
Distill'd from limbecks foul as hell within,
Applying fears to hopes, and hopes to fears,
Still losing when I saw myself to win !
What wretched errors hath my heart committed,
Whilst it hath thought itself so blessed never !
How have mine eyes out of their spheres been fitted
In the distraction of this madding fever !
O benefit of ill ! now I find true
That better is by evil still made better ;
And ruin'd love, when it is built anew,
Grows fairer than at first, more strong, far greater.
So I return rebuk'd to my content,
And gain by ill thrice more than I have spent.
That you were once unkind befriends me now,
And for that sorrow wiich I then did feel,
Needs must I under my transgression bow,
Unless my nerves were brass or hammer' d steel.
For if you were by my unkindness shaken,
As I by yours, you 've pass'd a hell of time ;
And I, a tyrant, have no leisure taken
To weigh how once I suffer'd in your crime.
O, that our night of woe might have remem-
My deepest sense, how hard true sorrow hits,
And soon to you, as you to me, then tender'd
The humble salve which wounded bosoms fits !
But that your trespass now becomes a fee ;
Mine ransoms yours, and yours must ransom
'Tis better to be vile than vile esteem'd,
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 others' 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 maybe straight, though they themselves be bevel ;
By their rank thoughts my deeds must not be
Unless this general evil they maintain,
All men are bad, and in their badness reign.
Thy gift, thy tables, are within my brain
Full character' d 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 miss'd.
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 wondering at the present nor the past,
For thy rec6rds and what we see do 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 unfather'd,
As subject to Time's love or to Time's hate,
Weeds among weeds, or flowers with flowers
No, it was builded far from accident ;
It suffers not in smiling pomp, nor falls
Under the blow of thrallM discontent,
Whereto th' inviting time our fashion calls ;
It fears not policy, that heretic,
Which works on leases of short-number'd hours,
But all alone stands hugely politic,
That it nor grows with heat nor drowns with
To this I witness call the fools of time,
Which die for goodness, who haveliv'd for crime.
Were 't aught to me I bore the canopy,
With my extern the outward honouring,
Or laid great praises for eternity,
Which prove 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 foregoing 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 mix'd with seconds, knows no art
But mutual render, only me for thee.
Hence, thou suborn'd informer ! a true soul
When most impeach'd stands least in thy
thou, my lovely boy, who in thy power
Dost hold Time's fickle glass, his sickle, hour ;
Who hast by waning grown, and therein ehow'st
Thy lover's withering as thy sweet self grow'st ;
If Nature, sovereign mistress over wrack,
As thou goest onwards, still will pluck thee
She keeps thee to this purpose, that her skill
May time disgrace and wretched minutes kill.
Yet fear her, thou minion of her pleasure !
She may detain, but not still keep, her trea-
Her audit, though delay 'd, answer' d 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's shame ;
For since each hand hath put on nature's power,
Fairing the foul with art's false borrow'd face,
Sweet beauty hath no name, no holy hour,
But is profaned, if not lives in disgrace.
Therefore my mistress' eyes are raven black,
Her eyes so suited, and they mourners seem
At such who, not born fair, no beauty lack,
Slandering 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 blessed wood whose motion sounds
With thy sweet fingers, when thou gently sway'st
The wiry concord that mine ear confounds,