Selected Sonnets

William Shakespeare
From the Book: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare [UNABRIDGED]

Sonnet 18

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d,
But they eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade
When in enternal lines to time thou growest;
     So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
     So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Sonnet 23

As an unperfect actor on the stage,
Who with his fear is put beside 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’ercharged with burthen of my 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 hath more express’d.
     O learn to read what silent love hath writ:
     To hear with eyes belongs to love’s fine wit.

Sonnet 26

Lord of my love, to whom in vassalage
Thy merit my duty strongly knit,
To thee I send this written embassage,
To witness duty, not to show my wit.
Duty so great, which wit so poor as mine
May make seem bare, in wanting words to show it;
But that I hope some good conceit of thine
In thy soul’s thought, all naked, will bestow it:
Till whatsoever star that guides by moving,
points on me graciously with fair aspect,
And puts apparel on my tatter’d loving,
To show me worthy of thy sweet respect:
     Then may I dare not to boast how I do love thee,
     Till then, not show my head where thou mayst prove me.

Sonnet 46

Mine eye and heart are at mortal war,
How to divide the conquest of they sight;
Mine eye my heart they picture’s sight would bar,
My heart mine eye the freadom of that right.
My heart doth plead that thou in him dost lie,
(A closet never pierc’d with crystal eyes,)
But the defendant doth that plea deny,
And says in him they fair appearance lies.
To ‘cide this title is impannelled
A quest of thoughts, all tenants to the heart;
And by their verdict is determined
The clear eye’s moiety, and the dear heart’s part
     As thus, mine eye’s due is thine outward part,
     And my heart’s right thine inward love of heart

Sonnet 57

Being your slave, what should I do but tend
Upon the hours and times of your desire?
I have no precious time at all to spend,
Nor services to do till you require.
Nor dare I chide the world-without-end-hour,
Whilst I, my sovereign, watch the clock for you,
Nor think the bitterness of absence sour,
When you have bid your servant once adieu;
Nor dare I question with my jealous thought
Where you may be, or your affairs suppose,
But like a sad slave, stay and think of nought,
Save, where you are how happy you make those;
     So true a fool is love, that in your will
     (Though you do anything) he thinks no ill.

Sonnet 78

So oft I have invok’d thee for my muse,
And found such fair assistance in my verse,
As every alien pen hath got my use,
And under thee their poesy disperse.
Thine eyes, that taught the dumb on high to sing,
And heavy ignorance aloft to fly,
Have added feather’s to the learned’s wing,
And given grace a double majesty.
Yet be most proud of that which I compile,
Whose influence is thine and borne of thee:
In others’ works thou dost but mend the style,
And arts with thy sweet graces graced be;
     But thou are all my art, and dost advance
     As high as learning my rude ignorance.

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