Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > Poems

William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare: Poems.  1914.

Sonnet XXIII.

“As an unperfect actor on the stage”

AS an unperfect actor on the stage 
Who with his fear is put beside his part, 
Or some fierce thing replete with too much rage, 
Whose strength’s abundance weakens his own heart; 
So I, for fear of trust, forget to say         5
The perfect ceremony of love’s rite, 
And in mine own love’s strength seem to decay, 
O’ercharg’d with burden of mine own love’s might. 
O! let my books be then the eloquence 
And dumb presagers of my speaking breast,  10
Who plead for love, and look for recompense, 
More than that tongue that more hath more express’d. 
  O! learn to read what silent love hath writ: 
  To hear with eyes belongs to love’s fine wit. 



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