Is it thy will thy image should keep open My heavy eyelids to the weary night? Dost thou desire my slumbers should be broken, While shadows like to thee do mock my sight? Is it thy spirit that thou send'st from thee So far from home into my deeds to pry, To find out shames and idle hours in me, The scope and tenor of thy jealousy? O, no! thy love, though much, is not so great: It is my love that keeps mine eye awake; Mine own true love that doth my rest defeat, To play the watchman ever for thy sake: For thee watch I whilst thou dost wake elsewhere, From me far off, with others all too near.
Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye And all my soul and all my every part; And for this sin there is no remedy, It is so grounded inward in my heart. Methinks no face so gracious is as mine, No shape so true, no truth of such account; And for myself mine own worth do define, As I all other in all worths surmount. But when my glass shows me myself indeed, Beated and chopp'd with tann'd antiquity, Mine own self-love quite contrary I read; Self so self-loving were iniquity. 'Tis thee, myself, that for myself I praise, Painting my age with beauty of thy days.
Against my love shall be, as I am now, With Time's injurious hand crush'd and o'er-worn; When hours have drain'd his blood and fill'd his brow With lines and wrinkles; when his youthful morn Hath travell'd on to age's steepy night, And all those beauties whereof now he's king Are vanishing or vanish'd out of sight, Stealing away the treasure of his spring; For such a time do I now fortify Against confounding age's cruel knife, That he shall never cut from memory My sweet love's beauty, though my lover's life: His beauty shall in these black lines be seen, And they shall live, and he in them still green.
When I have seen by Time's fell hand defaced The rich proud cost of outworn buried age; When sometime lofty towers I see down-razed And brass eternal slave to mortal rage; When I have seen the hungry ocean gain Advantage on the kingdom of the shore, And the firm soil win of the watery main, Increasing store with loss and loss with store; When I have seen such interchange of state, Or state itself confounded to decay; Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate, That Time will come and take my love away. This thought is as a death, which cannot choose But weep to have that which it fears to lose.
Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea, But sad mortality o'er-sways their power, How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea, Whose action is no stronger than a flower? O, how shall summer's honey breath hold out Against the wreckful siege of battering days, When rocks impregnable are not so stout, Nor gates of steel so strong, but Time decays? O fearful meditation! where, alack, Shall Time's best jewel from Time's chest lie hid? Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back? Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid? O, none, unless this miracle have might, That in black ink my love may still shine bright.
Tired with all these, for restful death I cry, As, to behold desert a beggar born, And needy nothing trimm'd in jollity, And purest faith unhappily forsworn, And guilded honour shamefully misplaced, And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted, And right perfection wrongfully disgraced, And strength by limping sway disabled, And art made tongue-tied by authority, And folly doctor-like controlling skill, And simple truth miscall'd simplicity, And captive good attending captain ill: Tired with all these, from these would I be gone, Save that, to die, I leave my love alone.
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? Why should false painting imitate his cheek And steal dead seeing 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, Beggar'd 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 the bastard signs of fair were born, Or durst inhabit on a living brow; Before 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, Without 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, Uttering bare truth, even so as foes commend. Thy outward thus with outward praise is crown'd; 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, And 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 odour matcheth not thy show, The solve is this, that thou dost common grow.
That thou art blamed shall not be thy defect, For slander's mark was ever yet the fair; The ornament of beauty is suspect, A crow that flies in heaven's sweetest air. So thou be good, slander doth but approve Thy worth the greater, being woo'd of time; For canker vice the sweetest buds doth love, And thou present'st a pure unstained prime. Thou hast pass'd by the ambush of young days, Either not assail'd or victor being charged; Yet this thy praise cannot be so thy praise, To tie up envy evermore enlarged: If some suspect of ill mask'd not thy show, Then thou alone kingdoms of hearts shouldst owe.
No longer mourn for me when I am dead Then you shall hear the surly sullen bell Give warning to the world that I am fled From this vile world, with vilest worms to dwell: Nay, if you read this line, remember not The hand that writ it; for I love you so That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot If thinking on me then should make you woe. O, if, I say, you look upon this verse When I perhaps compounded am with clay, Do not so much as my poor name rehearse. But let your love even with my life decay, Lest the wise world should look into your moan And mock you with me after I am gone.
O, lest the world should task you to recite What merit lived in me, that you should love After my death, dear love, forget me quite, For you in me can nothing worthy prove; Unless you would devise some virtuous lie, To do more for me than mine own desert, And hang more praise upon deceased I Than niggard truth would willingly impart: O, lest your true love may seem false in this, That you for love speak well of me untrue, My name be buried where my body is, And live no more to shame nor me nor you. For I am shamed by that which I bring forth, And so should you, to love things nothing worth.
That time of year thou mayst in me behold When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. In me thou seest the twilight of such day As after sunset fadeth in the west, Which by and by black night doth take away, Death's second self, that seals up all in rest. In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire That on the ashes of his youth doth lie, As the death-bed whereon it must expire Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by. This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong, To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
But be contented: when that fell arrest Without all bail shall carry me away, My life hath in this line some interest, Which for memorial still with thee shall stay. When thou reviewest this, thou dost review The very part was consecrate to thee: The earth can have but earth, which is his due; My spirit is thine, the better part of me: So then thou hast but lost the dregs of life, The prey of worms, my body being dead, The coward conquest of a wretch's knife, Too base of thee to be remembered. The worth of that is that which it contains, And that is this, and this with thee remains.
So are you to my thoughts as food to life, Or as sweet-season'd showers are to the ground; And for the peace of you I hold such strife As 'twixt a miser and his wealth is found; Now proud as an enjoyer and anon Doubting the filching age will steal his treasure, Now counting best to be with you alone, Then better'd that the world may see my pleasure; Sometime all full with feasting on your sight And by and by clean starved for a look; Possessing or pursuing no delight, Save what is had or must from you be took. Thus do I pine and surfeit day by day, Or gluttoning on all, or all away.
Why is my verse so barren of new pride, So far from variation or quick change? Why with the time do I not glance aside To new-found methods and to compounds strange? Why write I still all one, ever the same, And keep invention in a noted weed, That every word doth almost tell my name, Showing their birth and where they did proceed? O, know, sweet love, I always write of you, And you and love are still my argument; So all my best is dressing old words new, Spending again what is already spent: For as the sun is daily new and old, So is my love still telling what is told.
Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear, Thy dial how thy precious minutes waste; The vacant leaves thy mind's imprint will bear, And of this book this learning mayst thou taste. The wrinkles which thy glass will truly show Of mouthed graves will give thee memory; Thou by thy dial's shady stealth mayst know Time's thievish progress to eternity. Look, what thy memory can not contain Commit to these waste blanks, and thou shalt find Those children nursed, deliver'd from thy brain, To take a new acquaintance of thy mind. These offices, so oft as thou wilt look, Shall profit thee and much enrich thy book.
So oft have I invoked thee for my Muse And found such fair assistance in my verse As every alien pen hath got my use And under thee their poesy disperse. Thine eyes that taught the dumb on high to sing And heavy ignorance aloft to fly Have added feathers to the learned's wing And given grace a double majesty. Yet be most proud of that which I compile, Whose influence is thine and born of thee: In others' works thou dost but mend the style, And arts with thy sweet graces graced be; But thou art all my art and dost advance As high as learning my rude ignorance.
Whilst I alone did call upon thy aid, My verse alone had all thy gentle grace, But now my gracious numbers are decay'd And my sick Muse doth give another place. I grant, sweet love, thy lovely argument Deserves the travail of a worthier pen, Yet what of thee thy poet doth invent He robs thee of and pays it thee again. He lends thee virtue and he stole that word From thy behavior; beauty doth he give And found it in thy cheek; he can afford No praise to thee but what in thee doth live. Then thank him not for that which he doth say, Since what he owes thee thou thyself dost pay.
O, how I faint when I of you do write, Knowing a better spirit doth use your name, And in the praise thereof spends all his might, To make me tongue-tied, speaking of your fame! But since your worth, wide as the ocean is, The humble as the proudest sail doth bear, My saucy bark inferior far to his On your broad main doth wilfully appear. Your shallowest help will hold me up afloat, Whilst he upon your soundless deep doth ride; Or being wreck'd, I am a worthless boat, He of tall building and of goodly pride: Then if he thrive and I be cast away, The worst was this; my love was my decay.
Or I shall live your epitaph to make, Or you survive when I in earth am rotten; From hence your memory death cannot take, Although in me each part will be forgotten. Your name from hence immortal life shall have, Though I, once gone, to all the world must die: The earth can yield me but a common grave, When you entombed in men's eyes shall lie. Your monument shall be my gentle verse, Which eyes not yet created shall o'er-read, And tongues to be your being shall rehearse When all the breathers of this world are dead; You still shall live--such virtue hath my pen-- Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men.
I grant thou wert not married to my Muse And therefore mayst without attaint o'erlook The dedicated words which writers use Of their fair subject, blessing every book Thou art as fair in knowledge as in hue, Finding thy worth a limit past my praise, And therefore art enforced to seek anew Some fresher stamp of the time-bettering days And do so, love; yet when they have devised What strained touches rhetoric can lend, Thou truly fair wert truly sympathized In true plain words by thy true-telling friend; And their gross painting might be better used Where cheeks need blood; in thee it is abused.
I never saw that you did painting need And therefore to your fair no painting set; I found, or thought I found, you did exceed The barren tender of a poet's debt; And therefore have I slept in your report, That you yourself being extant well might show How far a modern quill doth come too short, Speaking of worth, what worth in you doth grow. This silence for my sin you did impute, Which shall be most my glory, being dumb; For I impair not beauty being mute, When others would give life and bring a tomb. There lives more life in one of your fair eyes Than both your poets can in praise devise.
Who is it that says most? which can say more Than this rich praise, that you alone are you? In whose confine immured is the store Which should example where your equal grew. Lean penury within that pen doth dwell That to his subject lends not some small glory; But he that writes of you, if he can tell That you are you, so dignifies his story, Let him but copy what in you is writ, Not making worse what nature made so clear, And such a counterpart shall fame his wit, Making his style admired every where. You to your beauteous blessings add a curse, Being fond on praise, which makes your praises worse.
My tongue-tied Muse in manners holds her still, While comments of your praise, richly compiled, Reserve their character with golden quill And precious phrase by all the Muses filed. I think good thoughts whilst other write good words, And like unletter'd clerk still cry 'Amen' To every hymn that able spirit affords In polish'd form of well-refined pen. Hearing you praised, I say ''Tis so, 'tis true,' And to the most of praise add something more; But that is in my thought, whose love to you, Though words come hindmost, holds his rank before. Then others for the breath of words respect, Me for my dumb thoughts, speaking in effect.
Was it the proud full sail of his great verse, Bound for the prize of all too precious you, That did my ripe thoughts in my brain inhearse, Making their tomb the womb wherein they grew? Was it his spirit, by spirits taught to write Above a mortal pitch, that struck me dead? No, neither he, nor his compeers by night Giving him aid, my verse astonished. He, nor that affable familiar ghost Which nightly gulls him with intelligence As victors of my silence cannot boast; I was not sick of any fear from thence: But when your countenance fill'd up his line, Then lack'd I matter; that enfeebled mine.
Farewell! thou art too dear for my possessing, And like enough thou know'st thy estimate: The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing; My bonds in thee are all determinate. For how do I hold thee but by thy granting? And for that riches where is my deserving? The cause of this fair gift in me is wanting, And so my patent back again is swerving. Thyself thou gavest, thy own worth then not knowing, Or me, to whom thou gavest it, else mistaking; So thy great gift, upon misprision growing, Comes home again, on better judgment making. Thus have I had thee, as a dream doth flatter, In sleep a king, but waking no such matter.
When thou shalt be disposed to set me light, And place my merit in the eye of scorn, Upon thy side against myself I'll fight, And prove thee virtuous, though thou art forsworn. With mine own weakness being best acquainted, Upon thy part I can set down a story Of faults conceal'd, wherein I am attainted, That thou in losing me shalt win much glory: And I by this will be a gainer too; For bending all my loving thoughts on thee, The injuries that to myself I do, Doing thee vantage, double-vantage me. Such is my love, to thee I so belong, That for thy right myself will bear all wrong.
Say that thou didst forsake me for some fault, And I will comment upon that offence; Speak of my lameness, and I straight will halt, Against thy reasons making no defence. Thou canst not, love, disgrace me half so ill, To set a form upon desired change, As I'll myself disgrace: knowing thy will, I will acquaintance strangle and look strange, Be absent from thy walks, and in my tongue Thy sweet beloved name no more shall dwell, Lest I, too much profane, should do it wrong And haply of our old acquaintance tell. For thee against myself I'll vow debate, For I must ne'er love him whom thou dost hate.
Then hate me when thou wilt; if ever, now; Now, while the world is bent my deeds to cross, Join with the spite of fortune, make me bow, And do not drop in for an after-loss: Ah, do not, when my heart hath 'scoped this sorrow, Come in the rearward of a conquer'd woe; Give not a windy night a rainy morrow, To linger out a purposed overthrow. If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last, When other petty griefs have done their spite But in the onset come; so shall I taste At first the very worst of fortune's might, And other strains of woe, which now seem woe, Compared with loss of thee will not seem so.