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To keep an adjunct to remember thee,
Were to import forgetfulness in me.
No, Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change!
Thy pyramids built up with newer might
To me are nothing novel, nothing strange;
They are but dressings of a former sight.
Our dates are brief, and therefore we admire
What thou dost foist upon us that is old ;
And rather make them born to our desire
Than think that we before have heard them told.
Thy registers and thee I both defy,
Not wondering at the present nor the past;
For thy records and what we see do lie,
Made more or less by thy continual haste.
This I do vow, and this shall ever be,
I will be true, despite thy scythe and thee.
If my dear love were but the child of state,
It might for Fortune's bastard be unfather'd,
As subject to Time's love or to Time's hate,
Weeds among weeds, or flowers with flowers gather'd.
No, it was builded far from accident;
It suffers not in smiling pomp, nor falls
Under the blow of thralled discontent,
Whereto th' inviting time our fashion calls:
It fears not policy, that heretic,
Which works on leases of short-number'd hours,
But all alone stands hugely politic,
That it nor grows with heat nor drowns with showers.
To this I witness call the fools of time,
Which die for goodness, who have liv'd for crime.
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 forgoing 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.
O thou, my lovely boy,a 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, ( 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 age black was not counted fair,
Or if it were, it bore not beauty's name ;
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 bower,
But is profand, if not lives in disgrace.
Therefore my mistress' eyesd 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.
: 0 thou, my lovely boy,–] "This sonnet differs from all the others in the present collection, not being written in alternate rhymes.”—MALONE.
b - quietus-] Discharge, acquittance, release. So in Webster's "Duchess of Malfi," Act III. Sc. 2,
“ You had the trick in audit-time to be sick,
Till I had sign'd your quietus." c In the old age black was not counted fair,–] This and all the remaining Sonnets are addressed to a woman.
Therefore my mistress' eyes are raven black,
Her eyes so suited ;] Here we suspect the repetition of “ eyes” to have been a slip of the compositor, and that the poet wrote,
my mistress' brows are raven black," &c. or,
my mistress' eyes are raven black,
Her brows so suited," &c. Compare, “Love's Labour's Lost," Act IV. Sc. 3,
“O, if in black my lady's brou's be deck'd,
It mourns, that painting, and usurping hair,
Should ravish doters with a false aspect;
And therefore is she born to make black fair."
How oft, when thou, my music, music play'st,
Upon that blessed wood whose motion sounds
With thy sweet fingers, when thou gently sway'st
The wiry concord that mine ear confounds,
Do I envy those jacks,a 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 thyb 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
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.
those jacks,-) The keys of a spinnet or virginal were termed "jacks."
thy fingers-) In this, as in the last line, the old copy misprints their for “thy."
and prov'd, a very woe ;] An ingenious amendment by Malone; the quarto reading,
and proud and very woe.”
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any 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 :
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 tormentsa 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:
0, 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 engross'd :
Of him, myself, and thee, I am forsaken ;
A torment thrice three-fold thus to be cross'd.
Prison my heart in thy steel bosom's ward,
But then my friend's heart let my poor heart bail ;
Thine eyes I love, and they, as pitying me,
Knowing thy heart torments me with disdain,
Have put on black, &c.] In the quarto we have,_" torment me,” &c., which many modern editors have adopted, although the self-evident correction was made a century and a half ago.
Who e'er keeps a me, let my heart be his guard;
Thou canst not then use rigour in my gaol:
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 putt'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 ?
The sea, all water, yet receives rain still,
And, in abundance, addeth to his store;
So thou, being rich in Will, add to thy Will
One will of mine, to make thy large Will more.
Let no unkind, no fair beseechers kill;
Think all but one, and me in that one Will.
If thy soul check thee that I come so near,
Swear to thy blind soul that I was thy Will,
And will, thy soul knows, is admitted there;
Thus far for love, my love-suit, sweet, fulfil.
Will will fulfil the treasure of thy love,
Ay, fill it full with wills, and my will one,
In things of great receipt with ease we prove
• Who d'er keeps me, let my heart be his guard;] To keep, means to guard, defend.
b The statute of thy beauty-] “Statute has here its legal signification, that of a security or obligation for money.”—MALONE.
c – thou hast thy Will,–] The play upon the name of “Will” in this and the two next Sonnets obviously points to the poet's own Christian name; but it perhaps indicates also the prenomen of “ the only begetter of these Sonnets," "Mr. W. H."