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About this text

  • Title: The Sonnets (Modern)
  • Editor: Michael Best

  • Copyright Internet Shakespeare Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-proift purposes; for all other uses contact the Coordinating Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Michael Best
    Not Peer Reviewed

    The Sonnets (Modern)

    'Tis better to be vile than vile esteemed,
    When not to be, receives reproach of being,
    And the just pleasure lost, which is so deemed
    1805Not by our feeling, but by others' seeing.
    For why should others' false adulterate eyes
    Give salutation to my sportive blood?
    Or on my frailties why are frailer spies,
    Which in their wills count bad what I think good?
    1810No, I am that I am, and they that level
    At my abuses, reckon up their own;
    I may be straight, though they themselves be bevel.
    By their rank thoughts my deeds must not be shown,
    Unless this general evil they maintain:
    1815 All men are bad, and in their badness reign.
    Thy gift, thy tables, are within my brain
    Full charactered with lasting memory,
    Which shall above that idle rank remain
    1820Beyond all date, even to eternity--
    Or at the least, so long as brain and heart
    Have faculty by nature to subsist;
    Till each to razed oblivion yield his part
    Of thee, thy record never can be missed.
    1825That poor retention could not so much hold,
    Nor need I tallies thy dear love to score;
    Therefore to give them from me was I bold,
    To trust those tables that receive thee more.
    To keep an adjunct to remember thee
    1830 Were to import forgetfulness in me.
    No! Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change.
    Thy pyramids, built up with newer might,
    To me are nothing novel, nothing strange;
    1835They are but dressings of a former sight.
    Our dates are brief, and therefore we admire
    What thou dost foist upon us that is old,
    And rather make them born to our desire
    Than think that we before have heard them told.
    1840Thy registers and thee I both defy,
    Not wond'ring at the present, nor the past,
    For thy records, and what we see doth lie,
    Made more or less by thy continual haste:
    This I do vow, and this shall ever be,
    1845 I will be true despite thy scythe and thee.