Internet Shakespeare Editions

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

Venus and Adonis (Modern)

"How like a jade he stood tied to the tree,
Servilely mastered with a leathern rein;
But when he saw his love, his youth's fair fee,
He held such petty bondage in disdain,
395Throwing the base thong from his bending crest,
Enfranchising his mouth, his back, his breast.
"Who sees his true-love in her naked bed,
Teaching the sheets a whiter hue than white;
But when his glutton eye so full hath fed,
400His other agents aim at like delight?
Who is so faint that dares not be so bold
To touch the fire, the weather being cold?
"Let me excuse thy courser, gentle boy;
And learn of him, I heartily beseech thee,
405To take advantage on presented joy.
Though I were dumb, yet his proceedings teach thee.
O, learn to love; the lesson is but plain,
And once made perfect, never lost again."
"I know not love," quoth he, "nor will not know it,
410Unless it be a boar, and then I chase it.
'Tis much to borrow, and I will not owe it.
My love to love is love but to disgrace it;
For I have heard it is a life in death,
That laughs and weeps, and all but with a breath.
415"Who wears a garment shapeless and unfinished?
Who plucks the bud before one leaf put forth?
If springing things be any jot diminished,
They wither in their prime, prove nothing worth.
The colt that's backed and burdened being young
420Loseth his pride and never waxeth strong.