Some glory in their birth, some in their skill, Some in their wealth, some in their bodies' force, Some in their garments, though new-fangled ill, Some in their hawks and hounds, some in their horse; And every humour hath his adjunct pleasure, Wherein it finds a joy above the rest: But these particulars are not my measure; All these I better in one general best. Thy love is better than high birth to me, Richer than wealth, prouder than garments' cost, Of more delight than hawks or horses be; And having thee, of all men's pride I boast: Wretched in this alone, that thou mayst take All this away and me most wretched make.
But do thy worst to steal thyself away, For term of life thou art assured mine, And life no longer than thy love will stay, For it depends upon that love of thine. Then need I not to fear the worst of wrongs, When in the least of them my life hath end. I see a better state to me belongs Than that which on thy humour doth depend; Thou canst not vex me with inconstant mind, Since that my life on thy revolt doth lie. O, what a happy title do I find, Happy to have thy love, happy to die! But what's so blessed-fair that fears no blot? Thou mayst be false, and yet I know it not.
So shall I live, supposing thou art true, Like a deceived husband; so love's face May still seem love to me, though alter'd new; Thy looks with me, thy heart in other place: For there can live no hatred in thine eye, Therefore in that I cannot know thy change. In many's looks the false heart's history Is writ in moods and frowns and wrinkles strange, But heaven in thy creation did decree That in thy face sweet love should ever dwell; Whate'er thy thoughts or thy heart's workings be, Thy looks should nothing thence but sweetness tell. How like Eve's apple doth thy beauty grow, if thy sweet virtue answer not thy show!
They that have power to hurt and will do none, That do not do the thing they most do show, Who, moving others, are themselves as stone, Unmoved, cold, and to temptation slow, They rightly do inherit heaven's graces And husband nature's riches from expense; They are the lords and owners of their faces, Others but stewards of their excellence. The summer's flower is to the summer sweet, Though to itself it only live and die, But if that flower with base infection meet, The basest weed outbraves his dignity: For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds; Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.
How sweet and lovely dost thou make the shame Which, like a canker in the fragrant rose, Doth spot the beauty of thy budding name! O, in what sweets dost thou thy sins enclose! That tongue that tells the story of thy days, Making lascivious comments on thy sport, Cannot dispraise but in a kind of praise; Naming thy name blesses an ill report. O, what a mansion have those vices got Which for their habitation chose out thee, Where beauty's veil doth cover every blot, And all things turn to fair that eyes can see! Take heed, dear heart, of this large privilege; The hardest knife ill-used doth lose his edge.
Some say thy fault is youth, some wantonness; Some say thy grace is youth and gentle sport; Both grace and faults are loved of more and less; Thou makest faults graces that to thee resort. As on the finger of a throned queen The basest jewel will be well esteem'd, So are those errors that in thee are seen To truths translated and for true things deem'd. How many lambs might the stem wolf betray, If like a lamb he could his looks translate! How many gazers mightst thou lead away, If thou wouldst use the strength of all thy state! But do not so; I love thee in such sort As, thou being mine, mine is thy good report.
How like a winter hath my absence been From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year! What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen! What old December's bareness every where! And yet this time removed was summer's time, The teeming autumn, big with rich increase, Bearing the wanton burden of the prime, Like widow'd wombs after their lords' decease: Yet this abundant issue seem'd to me But hope of orphans and unfather'd fruit; For summer and his pleasures wait on thee, And, thou away, the very birds are mute; Or, if they sing, 'tis with so dull a cheer That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's near.
From you have I been absent in the spring, When proud-pied April dress'd in all his trim Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing, That heavy Saturn laugh'd and leap'd with him. Yet nor the lays of birds nor the sweet smell Of different flowers in odour and in hue Could make me any summer's story tell, Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew; Nor did I wonder at the lily's white, Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose; They were but sweet, but figures of delight, Drawn after you, you pattern of all those. Yet seem'd it winter still, and, you away, As with your shadow I with these did play:
The forward violet thus did I chide: Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells, If not from my love's breath? The purple pride Which on thy soft cheek for complexion dwells In my love's veins thou hast too grossly dyed. The lily I condemned for thy hand, And buds of marjoram had stol'n thy hair: The roses fearfully on thorns did stand, One blushing shame, another white despair; A third, nor red nor white, had stol'n of both And to his robbery had annex'd thy breath; But, for his theft, in pride of all his growth A vengeful canker eat him up to death. More flowers I noted, yet I none could see But sweet or colour it had stol'n from thee.
Where art thou, Muse, that thou forget'st so long To speak of that which gives thee all thy might? Spend'st thou thy fury on some worthless song, Darkening thy power to lend base subjects light? Return, forgetful Muse, and straight redeem In gentle numbers time so idly spent; Sing to the ear that doth thy lays esteem And gives thy pen both skill and argument. Rise, resty Muse, my love's sweet face survey, If Time have any wrinkle graven there; If any, be a satire to decay, And make Time's spoils despised every where. Give my love fame faster than Time wastes life; So thou prevent'st his scythe and crooked knife.
O truant Muse, what shall be thy amends For thy neglect of truth in beauty dyed? Both truth and beauty on my love depends; So dost thou too, and therein dignified. Make answer, Muse: wilt thou not haply say 'Truth needs no colour, with his colour fix'd; Beauty no pencil, beauty's truth to lay; But best is best, if never intermix'd?' Because he needs no praise, wilt thou be dumb? Excuse not silence so; for't lies in thee To make him much outlive a gilded tomb, And to be praised of ages yet to be. Then do thy office, Muse; I teach thee how To make him seem long hence as he shows now.
My love is strengthen'd, though more weak in seeming; I love not less, though less the show appear: That love is merchandized whose rich esteeming The owner's tongue doth publish every where. Our love was new and then but in the spring When I was wont to greet it with my lays, As Philomel in summer's front doth sing And stops her pipe in growth of riper days: Not that the summer is less pleasant now Than when her mournful hymns did hush the night, But that wild music burthens every bough And sweets grown common lose their dear delight. Therefore like her I sometime hold my tongue, Because I would not dull you with my song.
Alack, what poverty my Muse brings forth, That having such a scope to show her pride, The argument all bare is of more worth Than when it hath my added praise beside! O, blame me not, if I no more can write! Look in your glass, and there appears a face That over-goes my blunt invention quite, Dulling my lines and doing me disgrace. Were it not sinful then, striving to mend, To mar the subject that before was well? For to no other pass my verses tend Than of your graces and your gifts to tell; And more, much more, than in my verse can sit Your own glass shows you when you look in it.
To me, fair friend, you never can be old, For as you were when first your eye I eyed, Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold Have from the forests shook three summers' pride, Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turn'd In process of the seasons have I seen, Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burn'd, Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green. Ah! yet doth beauty, like a dial-hand, Steal from his figure and no pace perceived; So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand, Hath motion and mine eye may be deceived: For fear of which, hear this, thou age unbred; Ere you were born was beauty's summer dead.
Let not my love be call'd idolatry, Nor my beloved as an idol show, Since all alike my songs and praises be To one, of one, still such, and ever so. Kind is my love to-day, to-morrow kind, Still constant in a wondrous excellence; Therefore my verse to constancy confined, One thing expressing, leaves out difference. 'Fair, kind and true' is all my argument, 'Fair, kind, and true' varying to other words; And in this change is my invention spent, Three themes in one, which wondrous scope affords. 'Fair, kind, and true,' have often lived alone, Which three till now never kept seat in one.
When in the chronicle of wasted time I see descriptions of the fairest wights, And beauty making beautiful old rhyme In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights, Then, in the blazon of sweet beauty's best, Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow, I see their antique pen would have express'd Even such a beauty as you master now. So all their praises are but prophecies Of this our time, all you prefiguring; And, for they look'd but with divining eyes, They had not skill enough your worth to sing: For we, which now behold these present days, Had eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise.
Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul Of the wide world dreaming on things to come, Can yet the lease of my true love control, Supposed as forfeit to a confined doom. The mortal moon hath her eclipse endured And the sad augurs mock their own presage; Incertainties now crown themselves assured And peace proclaims olives of endless age. Now with the drops of this most balmy time My love looks fresh, and death to me subscribes, Since, spite of him, I'll live in this poor rhyme, While he insults o'er dull and speechless tribes: And thou in this shalt find thy monument, When tyrants' crests and tombs of brass are spent.
What's in the brain that ink may character Which hath not figured to thee my true spirit? What's new to speak, what new to register, That may express my love or thy dear merit? Nothing, sweet boy; but yet, like prayers divine, I must, each day say o'er the very same, Counting no old thing old, thou mine, I thine, Even as when first I hallow'd thy fair name. So that eternal love in love's fresh case Weighs not the dust and injury of age, Nor gives to necessary wrinkles place, But makes antiquity for aye his page, Finding the first conceit of love there bred Where time and outward form would show it dead.
O, never say that I was false of heart, Though absence seem'd my flame to qualify. As easy might I from myself depart As from my soul, which in thy breast doth lie: That is my home of love: if I have ranged, Like him that travels I return again, Just to the time, not with the time exchanged, So that myself bring water for my stain. Never believe, though in my nature reign'd All frailties that besiege all kinds of blood, That it could so preposterously be stain'd, To leave for nothing all thy sum of good; For nothing this wide universe I call, Save thou, my rose; in it thou art my all.
Alas, 'tis true I have gone here and there And made myself a motley to the view, Gored mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear, Made old offences of affections new; Most true it is that I have look'd on truth Askance and strangely: but, by all above, These blenches gave my heart another youth, And worse essays proved thee my best of love. Now all is done, have what shall have no end: Mine appetite I never more will grind On newer proof, to try an older friend, A god in love, to whom I am confined. Then give me welcome, next my heaven the best, Even to thy pure and most most loving breast.
O, for my sake do you with Fortune chide, The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds, That did not better for my life provide Than public means which public manners breeds. Thence comes it that my name receives a brand, And almost thence my nature is subdued To what it works in, like the dyer's hand: Pity me then and wish I were renew'd; Whilst, like a willing patient, I will drink Potions of eisel 'gainst my strong infection No bitterness that I will bitter think, Nor double penance, to correct correction. Pity me then, dear friend, and I assure ye Even that your pity is enough to cure me.
Your love and pity doth the impression fill Which vulgar scandal stamp'd upon my brow; For what care I who calls me well or ill, So you o'er-green my bad, my good allow? You are my all the world, and I must strive To know my shames and praises from your tongue: None else to me, nor I to none alive, That my steel'd sense or changes right or wrong. In so profound abysm I throw all care Of others' voices, that my adder's sense To critic and to flatterer stopped are. Mark how with my neglect I do dispense: You are so strongly in my purpose bred That all the world besides methinks are dead.
Since I left you, mine eye is in my mind; And that which governs me to go about Doth part his function and is partly blind, Seems seeing, but effectually is out; For it no form delivers to the heart Of bird of flower, or shape, which it doth latch: Of his quick objects hath the mind no part, Nor his own vision holds what it doth catch: For if it see the rudest or gentlest sight, The most sweet favour or deformed'st creature, The mountain or the sea, the day or night, The crow or dove, it shapes them to your feature: Incapable of more, replete with you, My most true mind thus makes mine eye untrue.
Or whether doth my mind, being crown'd with you, Drink up the monarch's plague, this flattery? Or whether shall I say, mine eye saith true, And that your love taught it this alchemy, To make of monsters and things indigest Such cherubins as your sweet self resemble, Creating every bad a perfect best, As fast as objects to his beams assemble? O,'tis the first; 'tis flattery in my seeing, And my great mind most kingly drinks it up: Mine eye well knows what with his gust is 'greeing, And to his palate doth prepare the cup: If it be poison'd, 'tis the lesser sin That mine eye loves it and doth first begin.
Those lines that I before have writ do lie, Even those that said I could not love you dearer: Yet then my judgment knew no reason why My most full flame should afterwards burn clearer. But reckoning time, whose million'd accidents Creep in 'twixt vows and change decrees of kings, Tan sacred beauty, blunt the sharp'st intents, Divert strong minds to the course of altering things; Alas, why, fearing of time's tyranny, Might I not then say 'Now I love you best,' When I was certain o'er incertainty, Crowning the present, doubting of the rest? Love is a babe; then might I not say so, To give full growth to that which still doth grow?
Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove: O no! it is an ever-fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wandering bark, Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken. Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle's compass come: Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom. If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Accuse me thus: that I have scanted all Wherein I should your great deserts repay, Forgot upon your dearest love to call, Whereto all bonds do tie me day by day; That I have frequent been with unknown minds And given to time your own dear-purchased right That I have hoisted sail to all the winds Which should transport me farthest from your sight. Book both my wilfulness and errors down And on just proof surmise accumulate; Bring me within the level of your frown, But shoot not at me in your waken'd hate; Since my appeal says I did strive to prove The constancy and virtue of your love.
Like as, to make our appetites more keen, With eager compounds we our palate urge, As, to prevent our maladies unseen, We sicken to shun sickness when we purge, Even so, being tuff of your ne'er-cloying sweetness, To bitter sauces did I frame my feeding And, sick of welfare, found a kind of meetness To be diseased ere that there was true needing. Thus policy in love, to anticipate The ills that were not, grew to faults assured And brought to medicine a healthful state Which, rank of goodness, would by ill be cured: But thence I learn, and find the lesson true, Drugs poison him that so fell sick of you.
What potions have I drunk of Siren tears, Distill'd from limbecks foul as hell within, Applying fears to hopes and hopes to fears, Still losing when I saw myself to win! What wretched errors hath my heart committed, Whilst it hath thought itself so blessed never! How have mine eyes out of their spheres been fitted In the distraction of this madding fever! O benefit of ill! now I find true That better is by evil still made better; And ruin'd love, when it is built anew, Grows fairer than at first, more strong, far greater. So I return rebuked to my content And gain by ill thrice more than I have spent.
That you were once unkind befriends me now, And for that sorrow which I then did feel Needs must I under my transgression bow, Unless my nerves were brass or hammer'd steel. For if you were by my unkindness shaken As I by yours, you've pass'd a hell of time, And I, a tyrant, have no leisure taken To weigh how once I suffered in your crime. O, that our night of woe might have remember'd My deepest sense, how hard true sorrow hits, And soon to you, as you to me, then tender'd The humble slave which wounded bosoms fits! But that your trespass now becomes a fee; Mine ransoms yours, and yours must ransom me.