Sonnets 87-126

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Fair Youth Sonnets 87-126

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Farewell! thou art too dear for my possessing,

  And like enough thou know'st thy estimate,

  The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing:

  My bonds in thee are all determinate. 

  For how do I hold thee but by thy granting,

  And for that riches where is my deserving?

  The cause of this fair gift in me is wanting,

  And so my patent back again is swerving.

  Thy self thou gav'st, thy own worth then not knowing,

  Or me to whom thou gav'st it, else mistaking,

  So thy great gift upon misprision growing,

  Comes home again, on better judgement making.

    Thus have I had thee as a dream doth flatter,

    In sleep a king, but waking no such matter.



When thou shalt be disposed to set me light,

  And place my merit in the eye of scorn,

  Upon thy side, against my self I'll fight,

  And prove thee virtuous, though thou art forsworn:

  With mine own weakness being best acquainted,

  Upon thy part I can set down a story

  Of faults concealed, wherein I am attainted:

  That thou in losing me, shalt win much glory: 

  And I by this will be a gainer too,

  For bending all my loving thoughts on thee,

  The injuries that to my self I do,

  Doing thee vantage, double-vantage me.

    Such is my love, to thee I so belong,

    That for thy right, my self will bear all wrong.



Say that thou didst forsake me for some fault,

  And I will comment upon that offence,

  Speak of my lameness, and I straight will halt:

  Against thy reasons making no defence.

  Thou canst not (love) disgrace me half so ill,

  To set a form upon desired change,

  As I'll my self disgrace, knowing thy will,

  I will acquaintance strangle and look strange:

  Be absent from thy walks and in my tongue,

  Thy sweet beloved name no more shall dwell,

  Lest I (too much profane) should do it wronk:

  And haply of our old acquaintance tell. 

    For thee, against my self I'll vow debate,

    For I must ne'er love him whom thou dost hate.



Then hate me when thou wilt, if ever, now,

  Now while the world is bent my deeds to cross,

  join with the spite of fortune, make me bow,

  And do not drop in for an after-loss:

  Ah do not, when my heart hath 'scaped this sorrow,

  Come in the rearward of a conquered woe,

  Give not a windy night a rainy morrow,

  To linger out a purposed overthrow.

  If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last,

  When other petty griefs have done their spite,

  But in the onset come, so shall I taste

  At first the very worst of fortune's might.

    And other strains of woe, which now seem woe,

    Compared with loss of thee, will not seem so.



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 humour 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' costs,

  Of more delight than hawks and 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 wretchcd make.



But do thy worst to steal thy self away,

  For term of life thou art assured mine,

  And life no longer than thy love will stay,

  For it depends upon that love of thine. 

  Then need I not to fear the worst of wrongs,

  When in the least of them my life hath end,

  I see, a better state to me belongs

  Than that, which on thy humour doth depend.

  Thou canst not vex me with inconstant mind,

  Since that my life on thy revolt doth lie,

  O what a happy title do I find,

  Happy to have thy love, happy to die!

    But what's so blessed-fair that fears no blot?

    Thou mayst be false, and yet I know it not.



So shall I live, supposing thou art true,

  Like a deceived husband, so love's face,

  May still seem love to me, though altered 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.



They that have power to hurt, and will do none,

  That do not do the thing, they most do show,

  Who moving others, are themselves as stone,

  Unmoved, cold, and to temptation slow:

  They rightly do inherit heaven's graces,

  And husband nature's riches from expense,

  Tibey are the lords and owners of their faces,

  Others, but stewards of their excellence:

  The summer's flower is to the summer sweet,

  Though to it self, it only live and die,

  But if that flower with base infection meet,

  The basest weed outbraves his dignity: 

    For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds,

    Lilies that fester, smell far worse than weeds.



How sweet and lovely dost thou make the shame,

  Which like a canker in the fragrant rose,

  Doth spot the beauty of thy budding name!

  O in what sweets dost thou thy sins enclose!

  That tongue that tells the story of thy days,

  (Making lascivious comments on thy sport)

  Cannot dispraise, but in a kind of praise,

  Naming thy name, blesses an ill report.

  O what a mansion have those vices got,

  Which for their habitation chose out thee,

  Where beauty's veil doth cover every blot,

  And all things turns to fair, that eyes can see!

    Take heed (dear heart) of this large privilege,

    The hardest knife ill-used doth lose his edge.



Some say thy fault is youth, some wantonness,

  Some say thy grace is youth and gentle sport,

  Both grace and faults are loved of more and less:

  Thou mak'st faults graces, that to thee resort:

  As on the finger of a throned queen,

  The basest jewel will be well esteemed:

  So are those errors that in thee are seen,

  To truths translated, and for true things deemed.

  How many lambs might the stern wolf betray,

  If like a lamb he could his looks translate!

  How many gazers mightst thou lead away,

  if thou wouldst use the strength of all thy state!

    But do not so, I love thee in such sort,

    As thou being mine, mine is thy good report.



How like a winter hath my absence been

  From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!

  What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!

  What old December's bareness everywhere! 

  And yet this time removed was summer's time,

  The teeming autumn big with rich increase,

  Bearing the wanton burden of the prime,

  Like widowed wombs after their lords' decease:

  Yet this abundant issue seemed to me

  But hope of orphans, and unfathered fruit,

  For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,

  And thou away, the very birds are mute.

    Or if they sing, 'tis with so dull a cheer,

    That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's near.



From you have I been absent in the spring,

  When proud-pied April (dressed in all his trim)

  Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing:

  That heavy Saturn laughed and leaped with him.

  Yet nor the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell

  Of different flowers in odour and in hue,

  Could make me any summer's story tell:

  Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew: 

  Nor did I wonder at the lily's white,

  Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose,

  They were but sweet, but figures of delight:

  Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.

    Yet seemed it winter still, and you away,

    As with your shadow I with these did play.



The forward violet thus did I chide,

  Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells,

  If not from my love's breath? The purple pride

  Which on thy soft check for complexion dwells,

  In my love's veins thou hast too grossly dyed.

  The lily I condemned for thy hand,

  And buds of marjoram had stol'n thy hair,

  The roses fearfully on thorns did stand,

  One blushing shame, another white despair:

  A third nor red, nor white, had stol'n of both,

  And to his robbery had annexed thy breath,

  But for his theft in pride of all his growth 

  A vengeful canker eat him up to death.

    More flowers I noted, yet I none could see,

    But sweet, or colour it had stol'n from thee.



Where art thou Muse that thou forget'st so long,

  To speak of that which gives thee all thy might?

  Spend'st thou thy fury on some worthless song,

  Darkening thy power to lend base subjects light?

  Return forgetful Muse, and straight redeem,

  In gentle numbers time so idly spent,

  Sing to the ear that doth thy lays esteem,

  And gives thy pen both skill and argument.

  Rise resty Muse, my love's sweet face survey,

  If time have any wrinkle graven there,

  If any, be a satire to decay,

  And make time's spoils despised everywhere.

    Give my love fame faster than Time wastes life,

    So thou prevent'st his scythe, and crooked knife.



O truant Muse what shall be thy amends,

  For thy neglect of truth in beauty dyed?

  Both truth and beauty on my love depends:

  So dost thou too, and therein dignified:

  Make answer Muse, wilt thou not haply say,

  'Truth needs no colour with his colour fixed,

  Beauty no pencil, beauty's truth to lay:

  But best is best, if never intermixed'?

  Because he needs no praise, wilt thou be dumb?

  Excuse not silence so, for't lies in thee,

  To make him much outlive a gilded tomb:

  And to be praised of ages yet to be.

    Then do thy office Muse, I teach thee how,

    To make him seem long hence, as he shows now.



My love is strengthened though more weak in seeming,

  I love not less, though less the show appear,

  That love is merchandized, whose rich esteeming, 

  The owner's tongue doth publish every where.

  Our love was new, and then but in the spring,

  When I was wont to greet it with my lays,

  As Philomel in summer's front doth sing,

  And stops her pipe in growth of riper days:

  Not that the summer is less pleasant now

  Than when her mournful hymns did hush the night,

  But that wild music burthens every bough,

  And sweets grown common lose their dear delight.

    Therefore like her, I sometime hold my tongue:

    Because I would not dull you with my song.



Alack what poverty my muse brings forth,

  That having such a scope to show her pride,

  The argument all bare is of more worth

  Than when it hath my added praise beside.

  O blame me not if I no more can write!

  Look in your glass and there appears a face,

  That over-goes my blunt invention quite, 

  Dulling my lines, and doing me disgrace.

  Were it not sinful then striving to mend,

  To mar the subject that before was well?

  For to no other pass my verses tend,

  Than of your graces and your gifts to tell.

    And more, much more than in my verse can sit,

    Your own glass shows you, when you look in it.



To me fair friend you never can be old,

  For as you were when first your eye I eyed,

  Such seems your beauty still: three winters cold,

  Have from the forests shook three summers' pride,

  Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turned,

  In process of the seasons have I seen,

  Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burned,

  Since first I saw you fresh which yet are green.

  Ah yet doth beauty like a dial hand,

  Steal from his figure, and no pace perceived,

  So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand 

  Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceived.

    For fear of which, hear this thou age unbred,

    Ere you were born was beauty's summer dead.



Let not my love be called idolatry,

  Nor my beloved as an idol show,

  Since all alike my songs and praises be

  To one, of one, still such, and ever so.

  Kind is my love to-day, to-morrow kind,

  Still constant in a wondrous excellence,

  Therefore my verse to constancy confined,

  One thing expressing, leaves out difference.

  Fair, kind, and true, is all my argument,

  Fair, kind, and true, varying to other words,

  And in this change is my invention spent,

  Three themes in one, which wondrous scope affords.

    Fair, kind, and true, have often lived alone.

    Which three till now, never kept seat in one.



When in the chronicle of wasted time,

  I see descriptions of the fairest wights,

  And beauty making beautiful old rhyme,

  In praise of ladies dead, and lovely knights,

  Then in the blazon of sweet beauty's best,

  Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow,

  I see their antique pen would have expressed,

  Even such a beauty as you master now.

  So all their praises are but prophecies

  Of this our time, all you prefiguring,

  And for they looked but with divining eyes,

  They had not skill enough your worth to sing:

    For we which now behold these present days,

    Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise.



Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul,

  Of the wide world, dreaming on things to come,

  Can yet the lease of my true love control, 

  Supposed as forfeit to a confined doom.

  The mortal moon hath her eclipse endured,

  And the sad augurs mock their own presage,

  Incertainties now crown themselves assured,

  And peace proclaims olives of endless age.

  Now with the drops of this most balmy time,

  My love looks fresh, and death to me subscribes,

  Since spite of him I'll live in this poor rhyme,

  While he insults o'er dull and speechless tribes.

    And thou in this shalt find thy monument,

    When tyrants' crests and tombs of brass are spent.



What's in the brain that ink may character,

  Which hath not figured to thee my true spirit,

  What's new to speak, what now to register,

  That may express my love, or thy dear merit?

  Nothing sweet boy, but yet like prayers divine,

  I must each day say o'er the very same,

  Counting no old thing old, thou mine, I thine, 

  Even as when first I hallowed thy fair name.

  So that eternal love in love's fresh case,

  Weighs not the dust and injury of age,

  Nor gives to necessary wrinkles place,

  But makes antiquity for aye his page,

    Finding the first conceit of love there bred,

    Where time and outward form would show it dead.



O never say that I was false of heart,

  Though absence seemed my flame to qualify,

  As easy might I from my self depart,

  As from my soul which in thy breast doth lie:

  That is my home of love, if I have ranged,

  Like him that travels I return again,

  Just to the time, not with the time exchanged,

  So that my self bring water for my stain,

  Never believe though in my nature reigned,

  All frailties that besiege all kinds of blood,

  That it could so preposterously be stained, 

  To leave for nothing all thy sum of good:

    For nothing this wide universe I call,

    Save thou my rose, in it thou art my all.



Alas 'tis true, I have gone here and there,

  And made my self a motley to the view,

  Gored mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear,

  Made old offences of affections new.

  Most true it is, that I have looked on truth

  Askance and strangely: but by all above,

  These blenches gave my heart another youth,

  And worse essays proved thee my best of love.

  Now all is done, have what shall have no end,

  Mine appetite I never more will grind

  On newer proof, to try an older friend,

  A god in love, to whom I am confined.

    Then give me welcome, next my heaven the best,

    Even to thy pure and most most loving breast.



O for my sake do you with Fortune chide,

  The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds,

  That did not better for my life provide,

  Than public means which public manners breeds.

  Thence comes it that my name receives a brand,

  And almost thence my nature is subdued

  To what it works in, like the dyer's hand:

  Pity me then, and wish I were renewed,

  Whilst like a willing patient I will drink,

  Potions of eisel 'gainst my strong infection,

  No bitterness that I will bitter think,

  Nor double penance to correct correction.

    Pity me then dear friend, and I assure ye,

    Even that your pity is enough to cure me.



Your love and pity doth th' impression fill,

  Which vulgar scandal stamped upon my brow,

  For what care I who calls me well or ill, 

  So you o'er-green my bad, my good allow?

  You are my all the world, and I must strive,

  To know my shames and praises from your tongue,

  None else to me, nor I to none alive,

  That my steeled sense or changes right or wrong.

  In so profound abysm I throw all care

  Of others' voices, that my adder's sense,

  To critic and to flatterer stopped are:

  Mark how with my neglect I do dispense.

    You are so strongly in my purpose bred,

    That all the world besides methinks are dead.



Since I left you, mine eye is in my mind,

  And that which governs me to go about,

  Doth part his function, and is partly blind,

  Seems seeing, but effectually is out:

  For it no form delivers to the heart

  Of bird, of flower, or shape which it doth latch,

  Of his quick objects hath the mind no part, 

  Nor his own vision holds what it doth catch:

  For if it see the rud'st or gentlest sight,

  The most sweet favour or deformed'st creature,

  The mountain, or the sea, the day, or night:

  The crow, or dove, it shapes them to your feature.

    Incapable of more, replete with you,

    My most true mind thus maketh mine untrue.



Or whether doth my mind being crowned with you

  Drink up the monarch's plague this flattery?

  Or whether shall I say mine eye saith true,

  And that your love taught it this alchemy?

  To make of monsters, and things indigest,

  Such cherubins as your sweet self resemble,

  Creating every bad a perfect best

  As fast as objects to his beams assemble:

  O 'tis the first, 'tis flattery in my seeing,

  And my great mind most kingly drinks it up,

  Mine eye well knows what with his gust is 'greeing, 

  And to his palate doth prepare the cup.

    If it be poisoned, 'tis the lesser sin,

    That mine eye loves it and doth first begin.



Those lines that I before have writ do lie,

  Even those that said I could not love you dearer,

  Yet then my judgment knew no reason why,

  My most full flame should afterwards burn clearer,

  But reckoning time, whose millioned accidents

  Creep in 'twixt vows, and change decrees of kings,

  Tan sacred beauty, blunt the sharp'st intents,

  Divert strong minds to the course of alt'ring things:

  Alas why fearing of time's tyranny,

  Might I not then say 'Now I love you best,'

  When I was certain o'er incertainty,

  Crowning the present, doubting of the rest?

    Love is a babe, then might I not say so

    To give full growth to that which still doth grow.



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 wand'ring 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.



Accuse me thus, that I have scanted all,

  Wherein I should your great deserts repay,

  Forgot upon your dearest love to call, 

  Whereto all bonds do tie me day by day,

  That I have frequent been with unknown minds,

  And given to time your own dear-purchased right,

  That I have hoisted sail to all the winds

  Which should transport me farthest from your sight.

  Book both my wilfulness and errors down,

  And on just proof surmise, accumulate,

  Bring me within the level of your frown,

  But shoot not at me in your wakened hate:

    Since my appeal says I did strive to prove

    The constancy and virtue of your love.



Like as to make our appetite more keen

  With eager compounds we our palate urge,

  As to prevent our maladies unseen,

  We sicken to shun sickness when we purge.

  Even so being full of your ne'er-cloying sweetness,

  To bitter sauces did I frame my feeding;

  And sick of welfare found a kind of meetness, 

  To be diseased ere that there was true needing.

  Thus policy in love t' anticipate

  The ills that were not, grew to faults assured,

  And brought to medicine a healthful state

  Which rank of goodness would by ill be cured.

    But thence I learn and find the lesson true,

    Drugs poison him that so feil sick of you.



What potions have I drunk of Siren tears

  Distilled from limbecks foul as hell within,

  Applying fears to hopes, and hopes to fears,

  Still losing when I saw my self to win!

  What wretched errors hath my heart committed,

  Whilst it hath thought it self so blessed never!

  How have mine eyes out of their spheres been fitted

  In the distraction of this madding fever!

  O benefit of ill, now I find true

  That better is, by evil still made better.

  And ruined love when it is built anew 

  Grows fairer than at first, more strong, far greater.

    So I return rebuked to my content,

    And gain by ills thrice more than I have spent.



That you were once unkind befriends me now,

  And for that sorrow, which I then did feel,

  Needs must I under my transgression bow,

  Unless my nerves were brass or hammered steel.

  For if you were by my unkindness shaken

  As I by yours, y'have passed a hell of time,

  And I a tyrant have no leisure taken

  To weigh how once I suffered in your crime.

  O that our night of woe might have remembered

  My deepest sense, how hard true sorrow hits,

  And soon to you, as you to me then tendered

  The humble salve, which wounded bosoms fits!

    But that your trespass now becomes a fee,

    Mine ransoms yours, and yours must ransom me.



'Tis better to be vile than vile esteemed,

  When not to be, receives reproach of being,

  And the just pleasure lost, which is so deemed,

  Not by our feeling, but by others' seeing.

  For why should others' false adulterate eyes

  Give salutation to my sportive blood?

  Or on my frailties why are frailer spies,

  Which in their wills count bad what I think good?

  No, I am that I am, and they that level

  At my abuses, reckon up their own,

  I may be straight though they themselves be bevel;

  By their rank thoughts, my deeds must not be shown

    Unless this general evil they maintain,

    All men are bad and in their badness reign.



Thy gift, thy tables, are within my brain

  Full charactered with lasting memory,

  Which shall above that idle rank remain 

  Beyond all date even to eternity.

  Or at the least, so long as brain and heart

  Have faculty by nature to subsist,

  Till each to razed oblivion yield his part

  Of thee, thy record never can be missed:

  That poor retention could not so much hold,

  Nor need I tallies thy dear love to score,

  Therefore to give them from me was I bold,

  To trust those tables that receive thee more:

    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 wond'ring at the present, nor the past,

  For thy records, and what we see doth 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 unfathered,

  As subject to time's love or to time's hate,

  Weeds among weeds, or flowers with flowers gathered.

  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-numbered 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 lived for crime.



 Were't aught to me I bore the canopy,

  With my extern the outward honouring,

  Or laid great bases for eternity,

  Which proves 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 mixed with seconds, knows no art,

  But mutual render, only me for thee.

    Hence, thou suborned informer, a true soul

    When most impeached, stands least in thy control.



O thou my lovely boy who in thy power,

  Dost hold Time's fickle glass his fickle 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 O thou minion of her pleasure,

  She may detain, but not still keep her treasure!

    Her audit (though delayed) answered must be,

    And her quietus is to render thee.

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