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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Songs and Their Settings
Selected Sonnets
By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
 
(See full text.)

WEARY with toil I haste me to my bed,—
  The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
But then begins a journey in my head,
  To work my mind when body’s work’s expired.
For then my thoughts (from far where I abide)        5
  Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,
  Looking on darkness which the blind do see;
Save that my soul’s imaginary sight
  Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,        10
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
  Makes black night beauteous, and her old face new.
Lo! thus by day my limbs, by night my mind,
For thee, and for myself, no quiet find.
 
LET me confess that we two must be twain,        15
  Although our undivided loves are one;
So shall those blots that do with me remain,
  Without thy help by me be borne alone.
In our two loves there is but one respect,
  Though in our lives a separable spite,        20
Which though it alter not love’s sole effect,
  Yet doth it steal sweet hours from love’s delight,
I may not evermore acknowledge thee,
  Lest my bewailèd guilt should do thee shame:
Nor thou with public kindness honor me,        25
  Unless thou take that honor from thy name;
But do not so: I love thee in such sort,
As, thou being mine, mine is thy good report.
 
WHEN most I wink, then do mine eyes best see,
  For all the day they view things unrespected;        30
But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,
  And darkly bright are bright in dark directed.
Then thou, whose shadow shadows doth make bright,
  How would thy shadow’s form, form happy show
To the clear day with thy much clearer light,        35
  When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so?
How would, I say, mine eyes be blessèd made
  By looking on thee in the living day,
When in dead night thy fair imperfect shade
  Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth stay?        40
All days are nights to see, till I see thee,
And nights bright days, when dreams do show thee me.
 
HOW heavy do I journey on the way,
  When what I seek (my weary travel’s end)
Doth teach that ease and that repose to say,        45
  “Thus far the miles are measured 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 loved not speed being made from thee.        50
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 to his side;
For that same groan doth put this in my mind,—        55
My grief lies onward, and my joy behind.
 
WHAT is your substance, whereof are you made,
  That millions of strange shadows on you tend?
Since every one hath, every one, one shade,
  And you, but one, can every shadow lend.        60
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,        65
  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.        70
 
OH, how much more doth beauty beauteous seem,
  By that sweet ornament which truth doth give!
The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem
  For that sweet odor which doth in it live.
The canker-blooms have full as deep a dye        75
  As the perfumed tincture of the roses;
Hang on such thorns, and play as wantonly
  When summer’s breath their maskèd buds discloses:
But, for their virtue only is their show,
  They live unwooed, and unrespected fade;        80
Die to themselves. Sweet roses do not so;
  Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odors made:
And so of you, beauteous and lovely youth,—
When that shall fade, my verse distils your truth.
 
NOT marble, nor the gilded monuments        85
  Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
  Than unswept stone, besmeared with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
  And broils root out the work of masonry,—        90
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,        95
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So, till the Judgment that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes.
 
LIKE as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
  So do our minutes hasten to their end;        100
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 crowned,
Crooked eclipses ’gainst his glory fight,        105
  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:        110
And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand,
Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.
 
SINCE brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,
  But sad mortality o’ersways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,        115
  Whose action is no stronger than a flower?
Oh! how shall summer’s honey-breath hold out
  Against the wreckful siege of battering days,
When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
  Nor gates of steel so strong, but Time decays?        120
Oh, fearful meditation! where, alack,
  Shall Time’s best jewel from Time’s chest lie hid?
Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?
  Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid?
Oh, none! unless this miracle have might,        125
That in black ink my love may still shine bright.
 
TIRED with all these, for restful death I cry;—
  As, to behold desert a beggar born,
And needy nothing trimmed in jollity,
  And purest faith unhappily forsworn,        130
And gilded honor shamefully misplaced,
  And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted,
And right perfection wrongfully disgraced,
  And strength by limping sway disablèd,
And art made tongue-tied by authority,        135
  And folly (doctor-like) controlling skill,
And simple truth miscalled simplicity,
  And captive good attending captain ill:
Tired with all these, from these would I be gone,
Save that to die I leave my love alone.        140
 
OR I shall live your epitaph to make,
  Or you survive when I in earth am rotten:
From hence your memory death cannot take,
  Although in me each part will be forgotten.
Your name from hence immortal life shall have,        145
  Though I, once gone, to all the world must die:
The earth can yield me but a common grave,
  When you entombèd in men’s eyes shall lie.
Your monument shall be my gentle verse,
  Which eyes not yet created shall o’er-read;        150
And tongues to be your being shall rehearse,
  When all the breathers of this world are dead;
You still shall live (such virtue hath my pen),
Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men.
 
FROM you have I been absent in the spring,        155
  When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,
Hath put a spirit of youth in everything,
  That heavy Saturn laughed and leaped with him;
Yet nor the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell
  Of different flowers in odor and in hue,        160
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,        165
  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,        170
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 stolen thy hair;        175
  The roses fearfully on thorns did stand,
One blushing shame, another white despair:
  A third, nor red nor white, had stolen of both,
And to this robbery had annexed thy breath;
  But for his theft, in pride of all his growth,        180
A vengeful canker eat him up to death.
More flowers I noted, yet I none could see
But sweet or color it had stolen from thee.
 
WHEN in the chronicle of wasted time
  I see descriptions of the fairest wights,        185
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 expressed        190
  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 looked but with divining eyes,
  They had not skill enough your worth to sing:        195
For we, which now behold these present days,
Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise.
 
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,        200
  Supposed as forfeit to a cónfined 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.        205
Now, with the drops of this most balmy time
  My love looks fresh, and death to me subscribes,—
Since, spite of him, I’ll live in this poor rhyme,
  While he insults o’er dull and speechless tribes;
And thou in this shalt find thy monument,        210
When tyrants’ crests and tombs of brass are spent.
 
TH’ EXPENSE of spirit in a waste of shame
  Is lust in action: and till action, lust
Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,
  Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust;        215
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;        220
  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.        225
 
 
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