Internet Shakespeare Editions

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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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    That god forbid, that made me first your slave,
    I should in thought control your times of pleasure,
    Or at your hand th'account of hours to crave,
    Being your vassal bound to stay your leisure.
    860Oh, let me suffer, being at your beck,
    Th'imprisoned absence of your liberty,
    And patience-tame to sufferance bide each check,
    Without accusing you of injury.
    Be where you list, your charter is so strong
    865That you yourself may privilege your time
    To what you will; to you it doth belong
    Yourself to pardon of self-doing crime.
    I am to wait, though waiting so be hell,
    Not blame your pleasure be it ill or well.
    If there be nothing new, but that which is
    Hath been before, how are our brains beguiled,
    Which, laboring for invention, bear amiss
    The second burden of a former child?
    875Oh, that record could with a backward look,
    Even of five hundred courses of the sun,
    Show me your image in some antique book,
    Since mind at first in character was done,
    That I might see what the old world could say
    880To this composèd wonder of your frame;
    Whether we are mended, or whe'er better they,
    Or whether revolution be the same.
    Oh, sure I am, the wits of former days
    To subjects worse have given admiring praise.
    Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
    So do our minutes hasten to their end,
    Each changing place with that which goes before,
    In sequent toil all forwards do contend.
    890Nativity, once in the main of light,
    Crawls to maturity; wherewith, being crowned,
    Crooked eclipses 'gainst his glory fight,
    And Time that gave, doth now his gift confound.
    Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth,
    895And delves the parallels in beauty's brow;
    Feeds on the rarities of nature's truth,
    And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow.
    And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand,
    Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.