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Internet Shakespeare Editions

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

Venus and Adonis (Modern)

"Hard-favored tyrant, ugly, meager, lean,
Hateful divorce of love," thus chides she death.
"Grim-grinning ghost, earth's worm, what dost thou mean
To stifle beauty and to steal his breath,
935 Who, when he lived, his breath and beauty set
Gloss on the rose, smell to the violet?
"If he be dead, O no, it cannot be,
Seeing his beauty, thou shouldst strike at it.
O yes, it may; thou hast no eyes to see,
940But hatefully at random dost thou hit.
Thy mark is feeble age, but thy false dart
Mistakes that aim and cleaves an infant's heart.
"Hadst thou but bid beware, then he had spoke,
And, hearing him, thy power had lost his power.
945The destinies will curse thee for this stroke.
They bid thee crop a weed; thou pluck'st a flower.
Love's golden arrow at him should have fled,
And not death's ebon dart to strike him dead.
"Dost thou drink tears, that thou provok'st such weeping?
950What may a heavy groan advantage thee?
Why hast thou cast into eternal sleeping
Those eyes that taught all other eyes to see?
Now nature cares not for thy mortal vigor
Since her best work is ruined with thy rigor."
955Here overcome, as one full of despair,
She vailed her eyelids, who like sluices stopped
The crystal tide that from her two cheeks fair
In the sweet channel of her bosom dropped;
But through the flood-gates breaks the silver rain,
960 And with his strong course opens them again.