William Shakespeare

Soundings Index

When I Consider Everything That Grows

 When I consider everything that grows
 Holds in perfection but a little moment,
 That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
 Whereon I perceive that men as plants increase,
 Cheered and check'd e'en 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 stay
 Sets you most rich in youth before my sight,
 Where wasteful Time debateth with decay,
 To 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.

As An Unperfect Actor On The Stage

 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'ercharg'd with burthen 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 express'd.
   O! learn to read what silent love hath writ:
   To hear with eyes belongs to love's fine wit.

When In Disgrace With Fortune And Men's Eyes

 When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes
 I all alone beweep my outcast state,
 And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
 And look upon myself, and curse my fate:
 Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
 Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess'd,
 Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
 With what I most enjoy contented least:
 Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
 Haply I think on thee,--and then my state,
 Like to the lark at break of day arising
 From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gat;
   For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
   That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

When To The Sessions Of Sweet Silent Thought

 When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
 I summon up remembrance of things past,
 I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
 And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste:
 Then can I drown an eye, unus'd to flow,
 Fro precious friends hid in death's dateless night,
 And weep afresh love's long since cancell'd woe,
 And moan th' expense of many a vanish'd sight:
 Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
 And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
 The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
 Which I new pay as if not paid before.
   But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
   All losses are restor'd and sorrows end.

Not Marble, Nor The Gilded Monuments

 Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
 Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rime;
 but you shall shine more bright in these contents
 Than unswept stone, besmear'd with sluttish time.
 When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
 And broils root out the work of masonry,
 Nor Mars his sword nor war's quick fire shall burn
 The living record of your memory.
 Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity
 Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room,
 Even in the eyes of all posterity
 That wear this world out to the ending doom.
   So, till the judgement that yourself arise,
   You live in this, and dwell in lovers' eyes.

Like As The Waves Make Towards The Pebbled Shore

 Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
 So do our minutes hasten to their end;
 Each changing place with that which goes before,
 In sequent toil all forwards do contend.
 Nativity, once in the main of light,
 Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown'd,
 Cooked eclipses 'gainst his glory fight
 And Time that gave doth now his gift confound.
 Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth
 And delves the parallels in beauty's brow,
 Feeds on the rarities of nature's truth,
 And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow:
   And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand,
   Praising they worth, despite his cruel hand.

When I Have Seen By Time's Fell Hand Defaced

 When I have seen by time's fell hand defaced
 The rich proud cost of outworn buried age;
 When sometime lofty towers I see down razed,
 And brass eternal slave to mortal rage:
 When I have seen the hungry ocean gain
 Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,
 And the firm soil win of the watery main,
 Increasing store with loss, and loss with store:
 When I have seen such interchange of state,
 Or state itself confounded to decay;
 Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate--
 That Time will come and take my love away.
   This thought is as a death, which cannot choose
   But weep to have that which it fears to lose.

Since Brass, Nor Stone, Nor Earth, Nor Boundless Sea

 Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,
 But sad mortality o'ersways their power,
 How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
 Whose action is no stronger than a flower?
 O! how shall summer's honey breath hold out
 Against the wrackful siege of batt'ring days,
 When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
 nor gates of steel so strong, but Time decays?
 O fearful meditation! where, alack,
 Shall Time's best jewel from Time's chest lie hid?
 Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?
 Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid?
   O! None, unless this miracle have might,
   That in black ink my love may still shine bright.

No Longer Mourn For Me When I Am Dead

 No longer mourn for me when I am dead
 Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell
 Give warning to the world that I am fled
 From this vile world, with vilest worms to dwell:
 nay, if you read this line, remember not
 The hand that writ it; for I love you so,
 That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot,
 If thinking on my then should make you woe.
 O! if, I say, you look upon this verse,
 When I perhaps compounded am with clay,
 Do not so much as my poor name rehearse,
 But let your love even with my life decay;
   Lest the wise world should look into your moan,
   And mock you with me after I am gone.

That Time Of Year Thou Mayest In Me Behold

 That time of year thou mayest in me behold
 When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
 Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
 bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
 In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
 As after sunset fadeth in the west,
 Which by and by black night doth take away,
 Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
 In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
 That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
 As the death-bed whereon it must expire
 Consum'd with that which it was nourish'd by.
   This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
   To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

Was It The Proud Full Sail Of His Great Verse

 Was it the proud full sail of his great verse,
 Bound for the prize of all too precious you,
 That did my ripe thoughts in my brain inhearse,
 Making their tomb the womb wherein they grew?
 Was it his spirit, by spirits taught to write
 Above a mortal pitch, that struck me dead?
 No, neither he, nor his compeers by night
 Giving him aid, my verse astonished.
 He, nor that affable familiar ghost
 Which nightly gulls him with intelligence,
 As victors of my silence cannot boast;
 I was not sick of any fear from thence:
   But when your countenance fil'd up his line,
   Then lack'd I matter; that enfeebled mine.

Farewell! Thou Art Too Dear For My Possessing

 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.
 Thyself thou gav'st, thy own worth then not knowing,
 Or me, to whom thou gav'st it, else mistaking;
 So thy great gift, upon misprison 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.

Let Me Not To The Marriage Of True Minds

 Let me not to the marriage of true minds
 Attempt impediments. Love is not love
 Which alters when it alternation 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.

My Mistress' Eyes Are Nothing Like The Sun

 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 oh 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.
   And yet, by heaven, I think my love so rare
   As any she belied with false compare.

Poor Soul, The Centre Of My Sinful Earth

 Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth,
 Rebuke these rebel powers that thee array!
 Why dost thou pine within and suffer death,
 Painting thy outward walls so costly gay?
 Why so large cost, having so short a lease,
 Dost thou upon thy fading mansion spend?
 Shall worms, inheritors of this excess,
 Eat up thy charge? Is this thy body's end?
 Then, soul, live thou upon thy servant's loss,
 And let that pine to aggravate thy store;
 Buy terms divine in selling hours of dross:
 Within be fed, without be rich no more.
   So shall thou feed on Death, that feeds on men,
   And Death once dead, there's no more dying then.

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