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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    My glass shall not persuade me I am old,
    So long as youth and thou are of one date;
    But when in thee time's furrows I behold,
    Then look I death my days should expiate.
    320For all that beauty that doth cover thee
    Is but the seemly raiment of my heart,
    Which in thy breast doth live, as thine in me;
    How can I then be elder than thou art?
    Oh, therefore love be of thyself so wary,
    325As I not for myself, but for thee will,
    Bearing thy heart, which I will keep so chary
    As tender nurse her babe from faring ill.
    Presume not on thy heart when mine is slain;
    Thou gav'st me thine not to give back again.
    As an unperfect actor on the stage,
    Who with his fear is put besides his part;
    Or some fierce thing replete with too much rage,
    Whose strength's abundance weakens his own heart;
    335So I, for fear of trust, forget to say
    The perfect ceremony of love's right,
    And in mine own love's strength seem to decay,
    O'ercharged with burden of mine own love's might:
    Oh, let my books be then the eloquence,
    340And dumb presagers of my speaking breast,
    Who plead for love, and look for recompense,
    More than that tongue that more hath more expressed.
    Oh, learn to read what silent love hath writ!
    To hear with eyes belongs to love's fine wit.
    Mine eye hath played the painter, and hath steeled
    Thy beauty's form in table of my heart;
    My body is the frame wherein 'tis held,
    And perspective it is best painter's art;
    350For through the painter must you see his skill,
    To find where your true image pictured lies,
    Which in my bosom's shop is hanging still,
    That hath his windows glazèd with thine eyes:
    Now see what good turns eyes for eyes have done:
    355Mine eyes have drawn thy shape, and thine for me
    Are windows to my breast, wherethrough the sun
    Delights to peep, to gaze therein on thee;
    Yet eyes this cunning want to grace their art:
    They draw but what they see, know not the heart.