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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    Ah, wherefore with infection should he live,
    And with his presence grace impiety,
    That sin by him advantage should achieve,
    And lace itself with his society?
    995Why should false painting imitate his cheek,
    And steal dead seeming of his living hue?
    Why should poor beauty indirectly seek
    Roses of shadow, since his rose is true?
    Why should he live, now nature bankrupt is,
    1000Beggared of blood to blush through lively veins?
    For she hath no exchequer now but his,
    And proud of many, lives upon his gains.
    O, him she stores, to show what wealth she had
    In days long since, before these last so bad.
    Thus is his cheek the map of days outworn,
    When beauty lived and died as flowers do now,
    Before these bastard signs of fair were born,
    Or durst inhabit on a living brow;
    1010Before the golden tresses of the dead,
    The right of sepulchres, were shorn away,
    To live a second life on second head;
    Ere beauty's dead fleece made another gay.
    In him those holy antique hours are seen,
    1015Without all ornament, itself and true,
    Making no summer of another's green,
    Robbing no old to dress his beauty new;
    And him as for a map doth Nature store,
    To show false Art what beauty was of yore.
    Those parts of thee that the world's eye doth view
    Want nothing that the thought of hearts can mend;
    All tongues, the voice of souls, give thee that due,
    Utt'ring bare truth, even so as foes commend;
    1025Thy outward thus with outward praise is crowned.
    But those same tongues that give thee so thine own
    In other accents do this praise confound,
    By seeing farther than the eye hath shown;
    They look into the beauty of thy mind,
    1030And that in guess they measure by thy deeds;
    Then, churls, their thoughts, although their eyes were kind,
    To thy fair flower add the rank smell of weeds.
    But why thy odor matcheth not thy show,
    The soil is this, that thou dost common grow.