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Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Michael Best
Not Peer Reviewed

The Sonnets (Modern)


My tongue-tied Muse in manners holds her still,
While comments of your praise richly compiled
Reserve thy character with golden quill,
And precious phrase by all the Muses filed.
1265I think good thoughts, whilst other write good words,
And like unlettered clerk still cry "Amen"
To every hymn that able spirit affords
In polished form of well refinèd pen.
Hearing you praised, I say "'Tis so, 'tis true,"
1270And to the most of praise add something more;
But that is in my thought, whose love to you,
Though words come hindmost, holds his rank before;
Then others for the breath of words respect,
Me for my dumb thoughts, speaking in effect.
Was it the proud full sail of his great verse,
Bound for the prize of all-too-precious you,
That did my ripe thoughts in my brain inhearse,
Making their tomb the womb wherein they grew?
1280Was it his spirit, by spirits taught to write
Above a mortal pitch, that struck me dead?
No, neither he, nor his compeers by night
Giving him aid, my verse astonishèd.
He, nor that affable familiar ghost
1285Which nightly gulls him with intelligence,
As victors of my silence cannot boast;
I was not sick of any fear from thence.
But when your countenance filled up his line,
Then lacked I matter, that enfeebled mine.
Farewell! thou art too dear for my possessing,
And like enough thou know'st thy estimate;
The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing;
My bonds in thee are all determinate.
1295For how do I hold thee but by thy granting,
And for that riches where is my deserving?
The cause of this fair gift in me is wanting,
And so my patent back again is swerving.
Thyself thou gav'st, thy own worth then not knowing,
1300Or me, to whom thou gav'st it, else mistaking;
So thy great gift upon misprision growing
Comes home again, on better judgment making.
Thus have I had thee as a dream doth flatter,
In sleep a king, but waking no such matter.