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  • 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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    But wherefore do not you a mightier way
    Make war upon this bloody tyrant, Time,
    And fortify yourself in your decay
    With means more blessed than my barren rhyme?
    230Now stand you on the top of happy hours,
    And many maiden gardens, yet unset,
    With virtuous wish would bear your living flowers,
    Much liker than your painted counterfeit:
    So should the lines of life that life repair,
    235Which this, Time's pencil, or my pupil pen,
    Neither in inward worth nor outward fair,
    Can make you live yourself in eyes of men.
    To give away yourself, keeps yourself still,
    And you must live drawn by your own sweet skill.
    Who will believe my verse in time to come,
    If it were filled with your most high deserts?
    Though yet, heaven knows, it is but as a tomb
    Which hides your life, and shows not half your parts:
    245If I could write the beauty of your eyes,
    And in fresh numbers number all your graces,
    The age to come would say, "This poet lies:
    Such heavenly touches ne'er touched earthly faces."
    So should my papers (yellowed with their age)
    250Be scorned, like old men of less truth than tongue,
    And your true rights be termed a poet's rage,
    And stretchèd meter of an antique song.
    But were some child of yours alive that time,
    You should live twice: in it, and in my rhyme.
    Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
    Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
    Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
    And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
    260Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
    And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
    And every fair from fair sometime declines,
    By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed:
    But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
    265Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
    Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
    When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:
    So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
    So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.