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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 antick pen would have express'd
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 look'd but with divining eyes,
They had not still enough your worth to sing:
For we, who now behold these present days,
Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise.



(My love is strengthen'd, tho' more weak in seeming ;

I love not less, tho' less the show appear:
That love is merchandiz'd, 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 in my lays;
As Philomel in summer's front doth sing,
And stops his 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 burdens 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.
Oh! blame me not, if I no more can write !
Look in your glass, and there appears a face,
That overgrows 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.


Oh! never say that I was false of heart,
Tho' absence seem'd my flame to qualify;
As easy might I from myself depart,

As from my soul which in my breast doth lie.
That is my home of love; if I have rang'd,
Like him that travels, I return again

Just to the time, not with the time exchang'd;
So that myself bring water for my stain.
Never believe, tho' in my nature reign'd
All frailties, that besiege all kind of blood,
That it could so prepost'rously be stain'd,
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 myself a motly to thy view;

Gor'd mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dea
Made old offences of affections new.

Most true it is, that I have look'd on truth
Askance and strangely : but by all above,
These blenches gave my heart another youth,
And worst assays prov'd 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 confin'd.

Then give me welcome, next my heaven the best,
Even to thy pure and most loving breast.


Oh! for my sake do you with fortune chide
The guilty goddess of my harmless deeds,
That did not better for my life provide,

Than publick means which publick manners breeds.
Thence comes it, that my name receives a brand,
And almost thence my nature is subdu'd
To what it works in, like the dyer's hand,
Pity me then, and wish I were renew'd;
Whilst like a willing patient I will drink
Potions of eysel '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,
E'en that your pity is enough to cure me.

Your love and pity doth th' impression fill,
Which vulgar scandal stamp'd upon my brow;
For what care I who calls me well or ill,

So you o'er-skreen my bad, my good allow?
You are my all; the world and I must strive,
To know my shame and praises from your tongue;
None else to me, nor I to none alive,

That my steel'd sense or changes right or wrong.
In so profound abysme I throw all care
Of other voices, that my adder's sense
To critick 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 me thinks I'm 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 birds, of flowers, or shape, which it doth lack;
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,

To 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 crown'd 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 alchymy?
To make of monsters, and things indigest,
Such cherubims as your sweet self resemble;
Creating every bad a perfect best,
As fast as objects to his beams assemble?
Oh! 'tis the first, 'tis flatt'ry in my seeing,

And my great mind most kindly drinks it up;
Mine eye well knows what with his gust is 'greeing,
And to his palate doth prepare the cup.

If it be poison'd, 'tis the lesser sin,

That mine eye loves it, and doth first begin.

Those lines, that I before have writ, do lie,
E'en 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 reck'ning time, whose million accidents
Creep in 'twixt vows, and change decrees of kings,
Can sacred beauty, blunt the sharp'st intents,
Divert strong minds to th' course of altʼring 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,
Crowding 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.


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 purchas'd right;
That I have hoisted sails to all the winds,

Which should transport me farthest from your sight;
Book both my wilfulness and error 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 you make your appetites 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 near cloying sweetness,
To bitter sauces did I frame my feeding;

And sick of welfare, found a kind of meekness,

To be diseas'd 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 hateful state,
Which rank of goodness would by ill be cured.
But thence I learn, and the fond lesson true,
Drugs poison him that so fell sick of you.

What potions have I drank of Syren's tears,
Distill'd from limbecks foul as hell within!
Applying fears to hopes, and hopes to fears,
Still losing when I saw myself to win.

What wretched errors hath my heart committed,
Whilst it hath thought itself so blessed never!
How have mine eyes out of their spheres been fitted,
In the distraction of this madding fever!

Oh! benefit of ill! now I find true,

That better is by evil still made better ;
And ruin'd love, when it is built anew,

Grows fairer than at first, more strong, far greater..
So I return rebuke to my content,

And gain by ill 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 hammer'd steel.
For if you were by my unkindness shaken,
As I by yours, y' have pass'd a hell of time;
And I a tyrant have no leisure taken,

To weigh how once I suffer'd in your crime.
Oh! 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 bosom fits!
But that your trespass now becomes a fee,
Mine ransoms yours, and yours must ransom me.


'Tis better to be vile than vile esteem'd,
When not to be, receives reproach of being;
And the just pleasure lost, which is so deem'd,

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