“And one man in his time plays many parts,
       His acts being seven ages.”
As You Like It, II:VII., Jaques

1

From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty's rose might never die,

2

When forty winters shall beseige thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty's field,

3

Look in thy glass, and tell the face thou viewest
Now is the time that face should form another;

4

Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend
Upon thyself thy beauty's legacy?

5

Those hours, that with gentle work did frame
The lovely gaze where every eye doth dwell,

6

Then let not winter's ragged hand deface
In thee thy summer, ere thou be distill'd:

7

Lo! in the orient when the gracious light
Lifts up his burning head, each under eye

8

Music to hear, why hear'st thou music sadly?
Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy.

9

Is it for fear to wet a widow's eye
That thou consumest thyself in single life?

10

For shame deny that thou bear'st love to any,
Who for thyself art so unprovident.

11

As fast as thou shalt wane, so fast thou growest
In one of thine, from that which thou departest;

12

When I do count the clock that tells the time,
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;

13

O, that you were yourself! but, love, you are
No longer yours than you yourself here live:

14

Not from the stars do I my judgment pluck;
And yet methinks I have astronomy,

15

When I consider every thing that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment,

16

But wherefore do not you a mightier way
Make war upon this bloody tyrant, Time?

17

Who will believe my verse in time to come,
If it were fill'd with your most high deserts?

18

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

19

Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion's paws,
And make the earth devour her own sweet brood;

20

A woman's face with Nature's own hand painted
Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion;

21

So is it not with me as with that Muse
Stirr'd by a painted beauty to his verse,

22

My glass shall not persuade me I am old,
So long as youth and thou are of one date;

23

As an unperfect actor on the stage
Who with his fear is put besides his part,

24

Mine eye hath play'd the painter and hath stell'd
Thy beauty's form in table of my heart;

25

Let those who are in favour with their stars
Of public honour and proud titles boast,

26

Lord of my love, to whom in vassalage
Thy merit hath my duty strongly knit,

27

Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;

28

How can I then return in happy plight,
That am debarr'd the benefit of rest?

29

When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state

30

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,

31

Thy bosom is endeared with all
Which I by lacking have supposed dead,

32

If thou survive my well-contented day,
When that churl Death my bones with dust shall cover,

33

Full many a glorious morning have I seen
Flatter the mountain-tops with sovereign eye,

34

Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day,
And make me travel forth without my cloak,

35

No more be grieved at that which thou hast done:
Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud,

36

Let me confess that we two must be twain,
Although our undivided loves are one:

37

As a decrepit father takes delight
To see his active child do deeds of youth,

38

How can my Muse want subject to invent,
While thou dost breathe, that pour'st into my verse

39

O, how thy worth with manners may I sing,
When thou art all the better part of me?

40

Take all my loves, my love, yea, take them all;
What hast thou then more than thou hadst before?

41

Those petty wrongs that liberty commits,
When I am sometime absent from thy heart,

42

That thou hast her, it is not all my grief,
And yet it may be said I loved her dearly;

43

When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see,
For all the day they view things unrespected;

44

If the dull substance of my flesh were thought,
Injurious distance should not stop my way;

45

The other two, slight air and purging fire,
Are both with thee, wherever I abide;

46

Mine eye and heart are at a mortal war
How to divide the conquest of thy sight;

47

Betwixt mine eye and heart a league is took,
And each doth good turns now unto the other:

48

How careful was I when I took my way,
Each trifle under truest bars to thrust,

49

Against that time, if ever that time come,
When I shall see thee frown on my defects,

50

How heavy do I journey on the way,
When what I seek, my weary travel's end,

51

Thus can my love excuse the slow offence
Of my dull bearer when from thee I speed:

52

So am I as the rich, whose blessed key
Can bring him to his sweet up-locked treasure,

53

What is your substance, whereof are you made,
That millions of strange shadows on you tend?

54

O, how much more doth beauty beauteous seem
By that sweet ornament which truth doth give.

55

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;

56

Sweet love, renew thy force; be it not said
Thy edge should blunter be than appetite,

57

Being your slave, what should I do but tend
Upon the hours and times of your desire?

58

That god forbid that made me first your slave,
I should in thought control your times of pleasure,

59

If there be nothing new, but that which is
Hath been before, how are our brains beguiled,

60

Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end;

61

Is it thy will thy image should keep open
My heavy eyelids to the weary night?

62

Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye
And all my soul and all my every part;

63

Against my love shall be, as I am now,
With Time's injurious hand crush'd and o'er-worn;

64

When I have seen by Time's fell hand defaced
The rich proud cost of outworn buried age;

65

Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,
But sad mortality o'er-sways their power,

66

Tired with all these, for restful death I cry,
As, to behold desert a beggar born,

67

Ah! wherefore with infection should he live,
And with his presence grace impiety,

68

Thus is his cheek the map of days outworn,
When beauty lived and died as flowers do now,

69

Those parts of thee that the world's eye doth view
Want nothing that the thought of hearts can mend;

70

That thou art blamed shall not be thy defect,
For slander's mark was ever yet the fair;

71

No longer mourn for me when I am dead
Then you shall hear the surly sullen bell

72

O, lest the world should task you to recite
What merit lived in me, that you should love

73

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang

74

But be contented: when that fell arrest
Without all bail shall carry me away,

75

So are you to my thoughts as food to life,
Or as sweet-season'd showers are to the ground;

76

Why is my verse so barren of new pride,
So far from variation or quick change?

77

Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear,
Thy dial how thy precious minutes waste;

78

So oft have I invoked thee for my Muse
And found such fair assistance in my verse

79

Whilst I alone did call upon thy aid,
My verse alone had all thy gentle grace,

80

O, how I faint when I of you do write,
Knowing a better spirit doth use your name,

81

Or I shall live your epitaph to make,
Or you survive when I in earth am rotten;

82

I grant thou wert not married to my Muse
And therefore mayst without attaint o'erlook

83

I never saw that you did painting need
And therefore to your fair no painting set;

84

Who is it that says most? which can say more
Than this rich praise, that you alone are you?

85

My tongue-tied Muse in manners holds her still,
While comments of your praise, richly compiled,

86

Was it the proud full sail of his great verse,
Bound for the prize of all too precious you,

87

Farewell! thou art too dear for my possessing,
And like enough thou know'st thy estimate:

88

When thou shalt be disposed to set me light,
And place my merit in the eye of scorn,

89

Say that thou didst forsake me for some fault,
And I will comment upon that offence;

90

Then hate me when thou wilt; if ever, now;
Now, while the world is bent my deeds to cross,

91

Some glory in their birth, some in their skill,
Some in their wealth, some in their bodies' force,

92

But do thy worst to steal thyself away,
For term of life thou art assured mine,

93

So shall I live, supposing thou art true,
Like a deceived husband; so love's face

94

They that have power to hurt and will do none,
That do not do the thing they most do show,

95

How sweet and lovely dost thou make the shame
Which, like a canker in the fragrant rose,

96

Some say thy fault is youth, some wantonness;
Some say thy grace is youth and gentle sport;

97

How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!

98

From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April dress'd in all his trim

99

The forward violet thus did I chide:
Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells,

100

Where art thou, Muse, that thou forget'st so long
To speak of that which gives thee all thy might?

101

O truant Muse, what shall be thy amends
For thy neglect of truth in beauty dyed?

102

My love is strengthen'd, though more weak in seeming;
I love not less, though less the show appear:

103

Alack, what poverty my Muse brings forth,
That having such a scope to show her pride,

104

To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I eyed,

105

Let not my love be call'd idolatry,
Nor my beloved as an idol show,

106

When in the chronicle of wasted time
I see descriptions of the fairest wights,

107

Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul
Of the wide world dreaming on things to come,

108

What's in the brain that ink may character
Which hath not figured to thee my true spirit?

109

O, never say that I was false of heart,
Though absence seem'd my flame to qualify.

110

Alas, 'tis true I have gone here and there
And made myself a motley to the view,

111

O, for my sake do you with Fortune chide,
The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds,

112

Your love and pity doth the impression fill
Which vulgar scandal stamp'd upon my brow;

113

Since I left you, mine eye is in my mind;
And that which governs me to go about

114

Or whether doth my mind, being crown'd with you,
Drink up the monarch's plague, this flattery?

115

Those lines that I before have writ do lie,
Even those that said I could not love you dearer:

116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love

117

Accuse me thus: that I have scanted all
Wherein I should your great deserts repay,

118

Like as, to make our appetites more keen,
With eager compounds we our palate urge,

119

What potions have I drunk of Siren tears,
Distill'd from limbecks foul as hell within,

120

That you were once unkind befriends me now,
And for that sorrow which I then did feel

121

'Tis better to be vile than vile esteem'd,
When not to be receives reproach of being,

122

Thy gift, thy tables, are within my brain
Full character'd with lasting memory,

123

No, Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change:
Thy pyramids built up with newer might

124

If my dear love were but the child of state,
It might for Fortune's bastard be unfather'd

125

Were 't aught to me I bore the canopy,
With my extern the outward honouring,

126

O thou, my lovely boy, who in thy power
Dost hold Time's fickle glass, his sickle, hour;

127

In the old age black was not counted fair,
if it were, it bore not beauty's name;

128

How oft, when thou, my music, music play'st,
Upon that blessed wood whose motion sounds

129

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

130

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;

131

Thou art as tyrannous, so as thou art,
As those whose beauties proudly make them cruel;

132

Thine eyes I love, and they, as pitying me,
Knowing thy heart torments me with disdain,

133

Beshrew that heart that makes my heart to groan
For that deep wound it gives my friend and me!

134

So, now I have confess'd that he is thine,
And I myself am mortgaged to thy will,

135

Whoever hath her wish, thou hast thy 'Will,'
And 'Will' to boot, and 'Will' in overplus;

136

If thy soul cheque thee that I come so near,
Swear to thy blind soul that I was thy 'Will,'

137

Thou blind fool, Love, what dost thou to mine eyes,
That they behold, and see not what they see?

138

When my love swears that she is made of truth
I do believe her, though I know she lies,

139

O, call not me to justify the wrong
That thy unkindness lays upon my heart;

140

Be wise as thou art cruel; do not press
My tongue-tied patience with too much disdain;

141

In faith, I do not love thee with mine eyes,
For they in thee a thousand errors note;

142

Love is my sin and thy dear virtue hate,
Hate of my sin, grounded on sinful loving:

143

Lo! as a careful housewife runs to catch
One of her feather'd creatures broke away,

144

Two loves I have of comfort and despair,
Which like two spirits do suggest me still:

145

Those lips that Love's own hand did make
Breathed forth the sound that said 'I hate'

146

Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth,
These rebel powers that thee array;

147

My love is as a fever, longing still
For that which longer nurseth the disease,

148

O me, what eyes hath Love put in my head,
Which have no correspondence with true sight!

149

Canst thou, O cruel! say I love thee not,
When I against myself with thee partake?

150

O, from what power hast thou this powerful might
With insufficiency my heart to sway?

151

Love is too young to know what conscience is;
Yet who knows not conscience is born of love?

152

In loving thee thou know'st I am forsworn,
But thou art twice forsworn, to me love swearing,

153

Cupid laid by his brand, and fell asleep:
A maid of Dian's this advantage found,

154

The little Love-god lying once asleep
Laid by his side his heart-inflaming brand,
Artwork of Shakespeare By Permission of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust