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Lyrics

sonnet 2 - sonnet 3 - sonnet 5 - sonnet 12 - sonnet 13 - sonnet 14 -
sonnet 17 - sonnet 23 - sonnet 27 - sonnet 28 - sonnet 53 -
sonnet 56 - sonnet 91 - sonnet 93 - sonnet 116 - sonnet 144

SONNET 2

When forty winters shall beseige thy brow,

And dig deep trenches in thy beauty's field,

Thy youth's proud livery, so gazed on now,

Will be a tatter'd weed, of small worth held:

Then being ask'd where all thy beauty lies,

Where all the treasure of thy lusty days,

To say, within thine own deep-sunken eyes,

Were an all-eating shame and thriftless praise.

How much more praise deserved thy beauty's use,

If thou couldst answer 'This fair child of mine

Shall sum my count and make my old excuse,'

Proving his beauty by succession thine!

This were to be new made when thou art old,

And see thy blood warm when thou feel'st it cold.

 

SONNET 3

Look in thy glass, and tell the face thou viewest

Now is the time that face should form another;

Whose fresh repair if now thou not renewest,

Thou dost beguile the world, unbless some mother,

For where is she so fair whose unear'd womb

Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry?

Or who is he so fond will be the tomb

Of his self-love, to stop posterity?

Thou art thy mother's glass, and she in thee

Calls back the lovely April of her prime:

So thou through windows of thine age shall see

Despite of wrinkles this thy golden time.

 But if thou live, remember'd not to be,

Die single, and thine image dies with thee.

 

SONNET 5

Those hours, that with gentle work did frame

The lovely gaze where every eye doth dwell,

Will play the tyrants to the very same

And that unfair which fairly doth excel:

For never-resting time leads summer on

To hideous winter and confounds him there;

Sap check'd with frost and lusty leaves quite gone,

Beauty o'ersnow'd and bareness every where:

Then, were not summer's distillation left,

A liquid prisoner pent in walls of glass,

Beauty's effect with beauty were bereft,

Nor it nor no remembrance what it was:

But flowers distill'd though they with winter meet,

Leese but their show; their substance still lives sweet.

 

SONNET 12

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.

 

SONNET 13

O that you were yourself! But, love, you are

No longer yours 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 honor 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.

 

SONNET 14

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 wouldst convert;

Or else of thee this I prognosticate:

Thy end is truth’s and beauty’s doom and date.

 

SONNET 17

Who will believe my verse in time to come

If it were filled 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 touched earthly faces.”

So should my papers, yellowed with their age,

Be scorned, like old men of less truth than tongue,

And your true rights be termed a poet’s rage

And stretchèd meter of an ántique song;

But were some child of yours alive that time,

You should live twice: in it and in my rhyme.

  

SONNET 23

As an unperfect actor on the stage,

Who with his fear is put besides 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'ercharged with burden 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 recompense

More than that tongue that more hath more expressed.

O learn to read what silent love hath writ!

To hear with eyes belongs to love’s fine wit.

 

SONNET 27

Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,

The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;

But then begins a journey in my head

To work my mind, when body's work's expired:

For then my thoughts--from far where I abide--

Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,

And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,

Looking on darkness which the blind do see:

Save that my soul's imaginary sight

Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,

Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,

Makes black night beauteous, and her old face new.

Lo! thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind,

For thee, and for myself, no quiet find.

  

SONNET 28

How can I then return in happy plight,

That am debarred the benefit of rest?

When day's oppression is not eas'd by night,

But day by night and night by day oppressed,

And each, though enemies to either's reign,

Do in consent shake hands to torture me,

The one by toil, the other to complain

How far I toil, still farther off from thee.

I tell the day, to please him thou art bright,

And dost him grace when clouds do blot the heaven:

So flatter I the swart-complexion'd night,

When sparkling stars twire not thou gild'st the even.

But day doth daily draw my sorrows longer,

And night doth nightly make grief's length seem stronger.

 

SONNET 53

What is your substance, whereof are you made,

That millions of strange shadows on you tend?

Since everyone hath every one, one shade,

And you, but one, can every shadow lend.

Describe Adonis, and the counterfeit

Is poorly imitated after you.

On Helen’s cheek all art of beauty set,

And you in Grecian tires are painted new.

Speak of the spring and foison of the year;

The one doth shadow of your beauty show,

The other as your bounty doth appear,

And you in every blessèd shape we know.

In all external grace you have some part,

But you like none, none you, for constant heart.

In all external grace you have some part,

But you like none, none you, for constant heart.

 

SONNET 56

Sweet love, renew thy force; be it not said

Thy edge should blunter be than appetite,

Which but today by feeding is allayed,

Tomorrow sharpened in his former might.

So love be thou; although today thou fill

Thy hungry eyes even till they wink with fullness,

Tomorrow see again, and do not kill

The spirit of love with a perpetual dullness.

Let this sad int'rim like the ocean be

Which parts the shore, where two contracted new

Come daily to the banks, that when they see

Return of love, more blest may be the view;

Else call it winter, which being full of care,

Makes summer’s welcome, thrice more wished, more rare.

 

SONNET 91

Some glory in their birth, some in their skill,

Some in their wealth, some in their body’s force,

Some in their garments, though new-fangled ill,

Some in their hawks and hounds, some in their horse;

And every humor 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.

 

SONNET 93

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!

  

SONNET 116

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.

 

SONNET 144

Two loves I have, of comfort and despair,

Which, like two spirits, do suggest me still;

The better angel is a man right fair,

The worser spirit a woman colored ill.

To win me soon to hell, my female evil

Tempteth my better angel from my side,

And would corrupt my saint to be a devil,

Wooing his purity with her foul pride.

And whether that my angel be turned fiend

Suspect I may, but not directly tell;

But being both from me both to each friend,

I guess one angel in another’s hell.

Yet this shall I ne'er know, but live in doubt,

Till my bad angel fire my good one out.