Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
How Like a Winter Hath My Absence Been
By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
HOW 1 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 2 was summer’s time;        5
The teeming Autumn, big with rich increase.
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime 3
Like widow’d wombs after their Lord’s decease:
Yet this abundant issue seem’d to me
But hope of orphans 4 and unfather’d fruit;        10
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.
Note 1. How like a winter hath my absence been.  Sonnet xcvii. in Shake-speare’s Sonnettes, 1609. [back]
Note 2. This time removed: this time of absence. [back]
Note 3. Prime: Spring. [back]
Note 4. Hope of orphans: such hope as orphans bring; or, expectation of the birth of children whose father is dead. (Staunton.) Dowden proposes crop of orphans. [back]

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