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Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Hardy M. Cook
Peer Reviewed

Venus and Adonis (Modern)


"Therefore, despite of fruitless chastity,
Love-lacking vestals and self-loving nuns,
That on the earth would breed a scarcity
And barren dearth of daughters and of sons,
755Be prodigal: the lamp that burns by night
Dries up his oil to lend the world his light.
"What is thy body but a swallowing grave,
Seeming to bury that posterity
Which by the rights of time thou needs must have,
760If thou destroy them not in dark obscurity?
If so, the world will hold thee in disdain,
Sith in thy pride so fair a hope is slain.
"So in thyself, thyself art made away,
A mischief worse than civil homebred strife,
765Or theirs whose desperate hands themselves do slay,
Or butcher sire that reaves his son of life.
Foul cank'ring rust, the hidden treasure frets,
But gold that's put to use more gold begets."
"Nay, then," quoth Adon, "you will fall again
770Into your idle overhandled theme.
The kiss I gave you is bestowed in vain,
And all in vain you strive against the stream;
For, by this black-faced night, desire's foul nurse,
Your treatise makes me like you worse and worse.
775"If love have lent you twenty thousand tongues,
And every tongue more moving than your own,
Bewitching like the wanton mermaids' songs,
Yet from mine ear the tempting tune is blown;
For know, my heart stands armèd in mine ear
780And will not let a false sound enter there,