Internet Shakespeare Editions

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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    Where art thou, Muse, that thou forget'st so long
    To speak of that which gives thee all thy might?
    Spend'st thou thy fury on some worthless song,
    1490Darkening thy power to lend base subjects light?
    Return, forgetful Muse, and straight redeem,
    In gentle numbers, time so idly spent;
    Sing to the ear that doth thy lays esteem,
    And gives thy pen both skill and argument.
    1495Rise, resty Muse; my love's sweet face survey,
    If time have any wrinkle graven there;
    If any, be a satire to decay,
    And make time's spoils despised everywhere.
    Give my love fame faster than time wastes life,
    1500 So thou prevent'st his scythe and crooked knife.
    O truant Muse, what shall be thy amends
    For thy neglect of truth in beauty dyed?
    Both truth and beauty on my love depends;
    1505So dost thou too, and therein dignified.
    Make answer, Muse, wilt thou not haply say,
    "Truth needs no color with his color fixed,
    Beauty no pencil, beauty's truth to lay,
    But best is best if never intermixed"?
    1510Because he needs no praise, wilt thou be dumb?
    Excuse not silence so, for't lies in thee
    To make him much outlive a gilded tomb,
    And to be praised of ages yet to be.
    Then do thy office, Muse; I teach thee how
    1515 To make him seem long hence, as he shows now.
    My love is strengthened, though more weak in seeming;
    I love not less, though less the show appear.
    That love is merchandised, whose rich esteeming4
    1520The owner's tongue doth publish everywhere.
    Our love was new, and then but in the spring,
    When I was wont to greet it with my lays,
    As Philomel in summer's front doth sing,
    And stops her pipe in growth of riper days.
    1525Not that the summer is less pleasant now
    Than when her mournful hymns did hush the night;
    But that wild music burdens every bough,
    And sweets grown common lose their dear delight.
    Therefore, like her, I sometime hold my tongue,
    1530 Because I would not dull you with my song.