Sonnets - William Shakespeare - ebook

Sonnets is the title of a collection of 154 Sonnets by William Shakespeare, which covers themes such as the passage of time, love, beauty and mortality. The first 126 Sonnets are addressed to a young man; the last 28 to a woman. The Sonnets were first published in a 1609 quarto with the full stylised title: SHAKE-SPEARES Sonnets. Never before Imprinted. (although Sonnets 138 and 144 had previously been published in the 1599 miscellany The Passionate Pilgrim). The quarto ends with "A Lover's Complaint", a narrative poem of 47 seven-line stanzas written in rhyme royal – though some scholars have argued convincingly against Shakespeare's authorship of the poem.The Sonnets to the young man express overwhelming, obsessional love. The main issue of debate has always been whether it remained platonic or became physical. The first 17 poems, traditionally called the procreation Sonnets, are addressed to the young man urging him to marry and have children in order to immortalize his beauty by passing it to the next generation. Other Sonnets express the speaker's love for the young man; brood upon loneliness, death, and the transience of life; seem to criticise the young man for preferring a rival poet; express ambiguous feelings for the speaker's mistress; and pun on the poet's name.The final two Sonnets are allegorical treatments of Greek epigrams referring to the "little love-god" Cupid. The publisher, Thomas Thorpe, entered the book in the Stationers' Register on 20 May 1609: Tho. Thorpe. Entred for his copie under the handes of master Wilson and master Lownes Wardenes a booke called Shakespeares sonnettes vjd. Whether Thorpe used an authorised manuscript from Shakespeare or an unauthorised copy is unknown. George Eld printed the quarto, and the run was divided between the booksellers William Aspley and John Wright.

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Copyright © 2017 by William Shakespeare.

All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations em- bodied in critical articles or reviews.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organiza- tions, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

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Sheba Blake Publishing




Book and Cover design by Sheba Blake Publishing

First Edition: January 2017







From fairest creatures we desire increase,That thereby beauty's rose might never die,But as the riper should by time decease,His tender heir might bear his memory:But thou contracted to thine own bright eyes,Feed'st thy light's flame with self-substantial fuel,Making a famine where abundance lies,Thy self thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel:Thou that art now the world's fresh ornament,And only herald to the gaudy spring,Within thine own bud buriest thy content,And tender churl mak'st waste in niggarding:Pity the world, or else this glutton be,To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee.


When forty winters shall besiege 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 asked, 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 deserv'd thy beauty's use,If thou couldst answer 'This fair child of mineShall 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.


Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewestNow 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 wombDisdains 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 theeCalls back the lovely April of her prime;So thou through windows of thine age shalt 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.


Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spendUpon thy self thy beauty's legacy?Nature's bequest gives nothing, but doth lend,And being frank she lends to those are free:Then, beauteous niggard, why dost thou abuseThe bounteous largess given thee to give?Profitless usurer, why dost thou useSo great a sum of sums, yet canst not live?For having traffic with thy self alone,Thou of thy self thy sweet self dost deceive:Then how when nature calls thee to be gone,What acceptable audit canst thou leave?Thy unused beauty must be tombed with thee,Which, used, lives th' executor to be.


Those hours, that with gentle work did frameThe lovely gaze where every eye doth dwell,Will play the tyrants to the very sameAnd that unfair which fairly doth excel;For never-resting time leads summer onTo hideous winter, and confounds him there;Sap checked with frost, and lusty leaves quite gone,Beauty o'er-snowed 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.


Then let not winter's ragged hand deface,In thee thy summer, ere thou be distill'd:Make sweet some vial; treasure thou some placeWith beauty's treasure ere it be self-kill'd.That use is not forbidden usury,Which happies those that pay the willing loan;That's for thy self to breed another thee,Or ten times happier, be it ten for one;Ten times thy self were happier than thou art,If ten of thine ten times refigur'd thee:Then what could death do if thou shouldst depart,Leaving thee living in posterity?Be not self-will'd, for thou art much too fairTo be death's conquest and make worms thine heir.


Lo! in the orient when the gracious lightLifts up his burning head, each under eyeDoth homage to his new-appearing sight,Serving with looks his sacred majesty;And having climb'd the steep-up heavenly hill,Resembling strong youth in his middle age,Yet mortal looks adore his beauty still,Attending on his golden pilgrimage:But when from highmost pitch, with weary car,Like feeble age, he reeleth from the day,The eyes, 'fore duteous, now converted areFrom his low tract, and look another way:So thou, thyself outgoing in thy noon:Unlook'd, on diest unless thou get a son.


Music to hear, why hear'st thou music sadly?Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy:Why lov'st thou that which thou receiv'st not gladly,Or else receiv'st with pleasure thine annoy?If the true concord of well-tuned sounds,By unions married, do offend thine ear,They do but sweetly chide thee, who confoundsIn singleness the parts that thou shouldst bear.Mark how one string, sweet husband to another,Strikes each in each by mutual ordering;Resembling sire and child and happy mother,Who, all in one, one pleasing note do sing:Whose speechless song being many, seeming one,Sings this to thee: 'Thou single wilt prove none.'


Is it for fear to wet a widow's eye,That thou consum'st thy self in single life?Ah! if thou issueless shalt hap to die,The world will wail thee like a makeless wife;The world will be thy widow and still weepThat thou no form of thee hast left behind,When every private widow well may keepBy children's eyes, her husband's shape in mind:Look! what an unthrift in the world doth spendShifts but his place, for still the world enjoys it;But beauty's waste hath in the world an end,And kept unused the user so destroys it.No love toward others in that bosom sitsThat on himself such murd'rous shame commits.


For shame! deny that thou bear'st love to any,Who for thy self art so unprovident.Grant, if thou wilt, thou art belov'd of many,But that thou none lov'st is most evident:For thou art so possess'd with murderous hate,That 'gainst thy self thou stick'st not to conspire,Seeking that beauteous roof to ruinateWhich to repair should be thy chief desire.O! change thy thought, that I may change my mind:Shall hate be fairer lodg'd than gentle love?Be, as thy presence is, gracious and kind,Or to thyself at least kind-hearted prove:Make thee another self for love of me,That beauty still may live in thine or thee.


As fast as thou shalt wane, so fast thou grow'st,In one of thine, from that which thou departest;And that fresh blood which youngly thou bestow'st,Thou mayst call thine when thou from youth convertest,Herein lives wisdom, beauty, and increase;Without this folly, age, and cold decay:If all were minded so, the times should ceaseAnd threescore year would make the world away.Let those whom nature hath not made for store,Harsh, featureless, and rude, barrenly perish:Look, whom she best endow'd, she gave thee more;Which bounteous gift thou shouldst in bounty cherish:She carv'd thee for her seal, and meant thereby,Thou shouldst print more, not let that copy die.


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 silvered 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 forsakeAnd die as fast as they see others grow;And nothing 'gainst Time's scythe can make defenceSave breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.


O! that you were your self; but, love you areNo longer yours, than you your self 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 leaseFind no determination; then you wereYourself 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 honour might uphold,Against the stormy gusts of winter's dayAnd 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.


Not from the stars do I my judgement 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 wellBy oft predict that I in heaven find:But from thine eyes my knowledge I derive,And constant stars in them I read such artAs '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.'


When I consider every thing that growsHolds in perfection but a little moment,That this huge stage presenteth nought but showsWhereon the stars in secret influence comment;When I perceive that men as plants increase,Cheered and checked even by the self-same sky,Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease,And wear their brave state out of memory;Then the conceit of this inconstant staySets you most rich in youth before my sight,Where wasteful Time debateth with decayTo change your day of youth to sullied night,And all in war with Time for love of you,As he takes from you, I engraft you new.