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When I do count the clock that tells the time,
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;
When I behold the violet past prime,
And sable curls, all silver'd o'er with white;
When lofty trees I see barren of leaves,
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
And summer's green all girded up in sheaves,
Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard ;
Then of thy beauty do I question make,
That thou among the wastes of time must go,
Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake,
And die as fast as they see others grow;
And nothing 'gainst time's scythe can make defence,
Save breed, to brave him, when he takes thee hence.
XIII. O that you were yourself! but, love, you are No longer your's, than you yourself here live : Against this coming end you should prepare, And your sweet semblance to some other give. So should that beauty which you hold in lease, Find no determination : then you were Yourself again, after yourself's decease, When your sweet issue your sweet form should bear. Who lets so fair a house fall to decay, Which husbandry in honour might uphold Against the stormy gusts of winter's day, And barren rage of death's eternal cold?
O! none but unthrifts:— Dear, my love, you know, You had a father; let your son say so.
Not from the stars do I my judgment pluck ;
And yet methinks I have astronomy,
But not to tell of good, or evil luck,
Of plagues, of dearths, or seasons' quality :
Nor can I fortune to brief minutes tell,
Pointing to each his thunder, rain, and wind;
Or say, with princes if it shall go well,
By oft predict that I in heaven find :
But from thine eyes my knowledge I derive,
And (constant stars) in them I read such art,
As truth and beauty shall together thrive,
If from thyself to store thou would'st convert :
Or else of thee this I prognosticate,
Thy end is truth's and beauty's doom and date.
When I consider every thing that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment,
That this huge state presenteth nought but shows
Whereon the stars in secret influence comment ;
When I perceive that men as plants increase,
Cheer'd and check'd even by the self-same sky ;
Vaunt in their youthful sap,'at height decrease,
And wear their brave state out of memory;
Then the conceit of this inconstant stay
Sets you most rich in youth before my sight,
Where wasteful time debateth with decay,
To change your day of youth to sullied night;
And, all in war with time, for love of you,
As he takes from you, I engraft you new.
But wherefore do not you a mightier way
Make war upon this bloody tyrant, Time ?
And fortify yourself in your decay
With means more blessed than my barren rhime ?
Now stand you on the top of happy hours;
And many maiden gardens yet unset,
With virtuous wish would bear you living flowers,
Much liker than your painted counterfeit :
So should the lines of life that life repair,
Which this, Time's pencil, or my pupil pen,
Neither in inward worth, nor outward fair,
Can make you live yourself in eyes of men.
To give away yourself, keeps yourself still ;
And you must live, drawn by your own sweet skill.
Who will believe my verse in time to come,
If it were fill’d with your most high deserts ?
Though yet heaven knows, it is but as a tomb
Which hides your life, and shows not half your parts.
If I could write the beauty of your eyes,
And in fresh numbers number all your graces,
The age to come would say, this poet lies,
Such heavenly touches ne'er touch'd earthly faces.
So should my papers, yellow'd with their age,
Be scorn'd, like old men of less truth than tongue;
And your true rights be term'd a poet's rage,
And stretched metre of an antique song:
But were some child of yours alive that time,
You should live twice ;-in it and in my rhime.
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate :
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimm'd ;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest ;
Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest ;
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion's paws,
And make the earth devour her own sweet brood ;
Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger's jaws,
And burn the long-liv'd phenix in her blood;
Make glad and sorry seasons, as thou fleet'st,
And do whate'er thou wilt, swift-footed Time,
To the wide world, and all her fading sweets;
But I forbid thee one most heinous crime:
O carve not with thy hours my love's fair brow,
Nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen ;
Him in thy course untainted do allow,
For beauty's pattern to succeeding men.
Yet, do thy worst, old Time: despite thy wrong,
My love shall in my verse ever live young.
A woman's face, with nature's own hand painted,
Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion ;
A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted
With shifting change, as is false women's fashion ;
An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;
A man in hue, all hues in his controlling,
Which steals men's eyes, and women's souls amazeth.
And for a woman wert thou first created ;
Till nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting,
And by addition me of thee defeated,
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing
But since she prick'd thee out for women's pleasure,
Mine be thy love, and thy love's use their treasure.
So is it not with me as with that muse,
Stirr'd by a painted beauty to his verse,
Who heaven itself for ornament doth use,
And every fair with his fair doth rehearse :
Making a couplement of proud compare,
With sun and moon; with earth and sea's rich gems,
With April's first-born flowers, and all things rare
That heaven's air in this huge rondure hems.
O let me, true in love, but truly write,
And then believe me, my love is as fair
As any mother's child, though not so bright
As those gold candles fix'd in heaven's air :
Let them say more that like of hear-say well ;
I will not praise, that purpose not to sell.
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.
For 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 ?
O therefore, love, be of thyself so wary,
As 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 beside his part,
Or some fierce thing replete with too much rage,
Whose strength's abundance weakens his own heart ;
So I, for fear of trust, forget to say
The perfect ceremony of love's rite,
And in mine own love's strength seem to decay,
O'er-charg'd with burthen of mine own love's might.
O let my books be then the eloquence
And dumb presagers of my speaking breast ;
Who plead for love, and look for recompence,
More than that tongue that more hath more express'd.
O learn to read what silent love hath writ:
To hear with eyes belongs to love's fine wit.
Mine eye hath play'd the painter, and hath steld
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.
For through the painter must you see his skill,
To find where your true image pictur’d lies,
Which in my bosom's shop is hanging still,
That hath his windows glazed with thine eyes.
Now see what good turns eyes for eyes have done ;
have drawn thy shape, and thine for me Are windows to my breast, where-through 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.
Let those who are in favour with their stars,
Of public honour and proud titles boast,
Whilst I, whom fortune of such triumph bars,
Unlook’d-for joy in that I honour most.
Great princes' favourites their fair leaves spread,
But as the marigold at the sun's eye,
And in themselves their pride lies buried,
For at a frown they in their glory die.
The painful warrior famoused for fight,
After a thousand victories once foil'd,
Is from the book of honour razed quite,
And all the rest forgot for which he toil'd :
Then happy I, that love and am beloved,
Where I may not remove, nor be removed.
Lord of my love, to whom in vassalage
Thy merit hath my duty strongly knit,
To thee I send this written embassage,
To witness duty, not to shew my wit,
Duty so great, which wit so poor as mine
May make seem bare, in wanting words to shew it ;
But that I hope some good conceit of thine
In thy soul's thought, all naked, will bestow it :
Till whatsoever star that guides my moving,
Points on me graciously with fair aspect,
And puts apparel on my tatter'd loving,
To shew me worthy of thy sweet respect :
Then may I dare to boast how I do love thee,
Till then, not shew my head where thou may'st prove me.