Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > Poems

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

Sonnet LIX.

“If there be nothing new, but that which is”

IF there be nothing new, but that which is 
Hath been before, how are our brains beguil’d, 
Which, labouring for invention, bear amiss 
The second burden of a former child! 
O! that record could with a backward look,         5
Even of five hundred courses of the sun, 
Show me your image in some antique book, 
Since mind at first in character was done! 
That I might see what the old world could say 
To this composed wonder of your frame;  10
Whe’r we are mended, or whe’r better they, 
Or whether revolution be the same. 
  O! sure I am, the wits of former days 
  To subjects worse have given admiring praise. 



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