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Were 't aught to me I bore the canopy,
With my extern the outward honouring,
Or laid great bases for eternity,
Which prove more short than waste or ruining?
Have I not seen dwellers on form and favour
Lose all, and more, by paying too much rent;
For compound sweet foregoing simple savour,
Pitiful thrivers, in their gazing spent ?
No; let me be obsequious in thy heart,
And take thou my oblation, poor but free,
Which is not mix'd with seconds, knows no art,
But mutual render, only me for thee.

Hence, thou suborn'd informer! a true soul,
When most impeach'd, stands least in thy control.

Oh thou, my lovely boy! who in thy power
Dost hold Time's fickle glass, his sickle, hour;
Who hast by waning grown, and therein show'st
Thy lovers withering, as thy sweet self grow'st;
If nature, sovereign mistress over wrack,
As thou goest onwards still will pluck thee back,
She keeps thee to this purpose, that her skill
May time disgrace, and wretched minutes kill '.
Yet fear her, oh thou minion of her pleasure !
She may detain, but not still keep her treasure :
Her audit, though delay'd, answer'd must be,
And her quietus is to render thee'.


In the old


black was not counted fair, Or if it were, it bore not beauty's name;

and wretched MINUTES kill.] Mynuit in the original edition, as the word is generally there spelt.

* And her quietus is to render thee.] At the end of this poem (for sonnet it is not, either in the number of lines, in the distribution of the rhymes, or in any other characteristic belonging to that description of poem) are marks of inclusion in the old copy, as if to indicate the absence of two lines: but the piece seems complete in itself without addition, and probably the author only intended it to consist of six couplets.

But now is black beauty's successive heir,
And beauty slander'd with a bastard shame;
For since each hand hath put on nature's power,
Fairing the foul with art's false borrow'd face,
Sweet beauty hath no name, no holy bowers,
But is profan'd, if not lives in disgrace.
Therefore, my mistress' eyes are raven black,
Her eyes so suited; and they mourners seem
At such, who, not born fair, no beauty lack,
Slandering creation with a false esteem:

Yet so they mourn, becoming of their woe,
That every tongue says, beauty should look so.


How oft, when thou, my music, music playest,
Upon that blessed wood, whose motion sounds
With thy sweet fingers, when thou gently swayest
The wiry concord that mine ear confounds,
Do I envy those jacks“, that nimble leap
To kiss the tender inward of thy hand,
Whilst my poor lips, which should that harvest reap,
At the wood's boldness by thee blushing stand.
To be so tickled, they would change their state
And situation with those dancing chips,
O'er whom thy fingers walk with gentle gait,
Making dead wood more bless'd than living lips.

Since saucy jacks so happy are in this,
Give them thy fingers, me thy lips to kiss.


Th' expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, lust

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3 Sweet beauty hath no name, not holy bower,] So the original, not “holy hour,” as Malone and all modern editors after bim (including the Rev. Mr. Dyce) have printed it. Holy bower" is much more intelligible than "holy hour," taking “ bower,” of course, in the sense of dwelling-place.

4 Do I envy those JACKS,] The "jacks” were the keys of the virginal, on which Shakespeare supposes his mistress to be playing. The verb “ to envy at that date most frequently pronounced with the accent on the last syllable.

5 V'er whom the fingers walk] In the old copy, “thy” is misprinted their, the error most common in the 4to, 1609.

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Is perjur’d, murderous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust;
Enjoy'd no sooner but despised straight;
Past reason hunted, and no sooner had,
Past reason hated, as a swallow'd bait,
On purpose laid to make the taker mad :
Mad in pursuit, and in possession so;
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof, and prov'd, a very woe°;
Before, a joy propos'd; behind, a dream.

All this the world well knows, yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.


My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red :
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound:
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.

And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare

she belied with false compare.


Thou art as tyrannous, so as thou art,
As those whose beauties proudly make them cruel;
For well thou know'st, to my dear doting heart
Thou art the fairest and most precious jewel.
Yet, in good faith, some say that thee behold,
Thy face hath not the power to make love groan :


and PROV'D, A very woe;] This is Malone's amendment of the old copy, which reads "and proud and very woe." “Prov'd” was probably written in the MS. with u instead of r, and the compositor misread a as the contraction for and. It seems impossible to make sense of the passage without alteration.

To say they err I dare not be so bold,
Although I swear it to myself alone.
And, to be sure that is not false I swear,
A thousand groans, but thinking on thy face,
One on another's neck, do witness bear,
Thy black is fairest in my judgment's place.

In nothing art thou black, save in thy deeds,
And thence this slander, as I think, proceeds.


Thine eyes I love, and they, as pitying me,
Knowing thy heart torments me with disdain',
Have put on black, and loving mourners be,
Looking with pretty ruth upon my pain.
And, truly, not the morning sun of heaven
Better becomes the grey cheeks of the east,
Nor that full star that ushers in the even
Doth half that glory to the sober west,
As those two mourning eyes become thy face.
Oh ! let it, then, as well beseem thy heart
To mourn for me, since mourning doth thee grace,
And suit thy pity like in every part:

Then will I swear, beauty herself is black,
And all they foul that thy complexion lack.

Beshrew that heart, that makes my heart to groan
For that deep wound it gives my friend and me!
Is't not enough to torture me alone,
But slave to slavery my sweet'st friend must be ?
Me from myself thy cruel eye hath taken,
And my next self thou harder hast engrossed :

? Knowing thy heart TORMENTS me with disdain,] This line is misprinted thus in the 4to, 1609 :

“ Knowing thy heart torment me with disdain.” It is, in fact, parenthetical ; and the meaning of the passage is, that the eyes of his mistress, knowing that ber heart torments him with disdain, have put ou black : the ordinary reading is little better than nonsense :

“ Tbine eyes I love, and they, as pitying me,

Knowing thy heart, torment me with disdain ;

Have put on black,'' &c. I owe this judicious emendation to an intelligent correspondent who signs himself J. O'Connell. The Rev. Mr. Dyce merely follows Malone.

Of him, myself, and thee, I am forsaken ;
A torment thrice threefold thus to be crossed.
Prison my heart in thy steel bosom's ward,
But, then, my friend's heart let my poor heart bail ;
Whoe'er keeps me, let my heart be his guard;
Thou canst not then use rigour in my jail :

And yet thou wilt; for I, being pent in thee,
Perforce am thine, and all that is in me.

So, now I have confess'd that he is thine,
And I myself am mortgag'd to thy will ;
Myself I'll forfeit, so that other mine
Thou wilt restore, to be my comfort still :
But thou wilt not, nor he will not be free,
For thou art covetous, and he is kind;
He learn'd but, surety-like, to write for me,
Under that bond that him as fast doth bind.
The statute of thy beauty & thou wilt take,
Thou usurer, that put'st forth all to use,
And sue a friend, came debtor for my sake;
So him I lose through my unkind abuse.

Him have I lost; thou hast both him and me:
He pays the whole, and yet am I not free.


Whoever hath her wish, thou hast thy Will',
And Will to boot, and Will in over-plus;
More than enough am I, that vex thee still,
To thy sweet will making addition thus.
Wilt thou, whose will is large and spacious,
Not once vouchsafe to hide my will in thine ?
Shall will in others seem right gracious,
And in my will no fair acceptance shine ?

8 The STATUTE of thy beauty] “Statute," says Malone, has here its legal signification, that of a security or obligation for money. The whole sonnet is founded upon legal technicalities, and it has been relied upon by those who contend that Shakespeare had once been a lawyer's clerk.

9 Whoever hath her wish, thou hast thy Will,] As there is, in this and the next sonnet, as well as in Sonnet 143, an obvious play upon the Christian name of the poet, we have printed it exactly as it stands in the 4to, 1609, and as it perhaps stood in the MS. from which it was printed.

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