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 recompence,
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.

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Mine eye hath play'd the painter, and hath steld
Thy beauty's form in table of my heart;
My body is the frame wherein 't is held,
And perspective it is best painter's art.
For through the painter must you see his skill,
To find where your true image pictur'd lies,
Which in my bosom's shop is hanging still,
That hath his windows glazed with thine eyes,
Now see what good turns eyes for eyes have done; ;
Mine eyes have drawn thy shape, and thine for me
Are windows to my breast, where-through the sun
Delights to peep, to gaze therein on thee;

eyes this cunning want to grace their art,
They draw but what they see, know not the heart.

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Table--go in All's Well that Ends Well :

“ 'T was pretty, though a plague,
To see him every hour; to sit and draw
His arched brows, his bawking eye, his curls,

In our heart's table."

, though sometimes used in the sense of a picture, more commonly means the tabular surface upon which a picture is painted.


Let those who are in favour with their stars,
Of public honour and proud titles boast,
Whilst I, whom fortune of such triumph bars,
Unlook'd for joy in that I honour most.
Great princes' favourites their fair leaves spread
But as the marigold at the sun's eye;
And in themselves their pride lies buried,
For at a frown they in their glory die.
The painful warrior famoused for fight,a
After a thousand victories once foil'd,
Is from the book of honour razed quite,
And all the rest forgot for which he toild:

Then happy I, that love and am belov'd
Where I may not remove, nor be remov’d.


Lord of my love, to whom in vassalage
Thy merit hath 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 to boast how I do love thee,
Till then, not show my head where thou mayst prove me.



a Fight. The original has worth. Theobald, who saw that the alternate rhyme is invariably preserved in the other Sonnets, proposed to make one of two changes; to read fight instead of worth, or forth instead of quite. We are not perfectly satisfied with either change; but as the first has been adopted in all modern editions, we will not attempt to disturb the received reading, and we have no doubt that some error is involved in the original.


Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
The dear repose for limbs with travel tir'd;
But then begins a journey in my head,
To work my mind, when body's work 's expir’d:
For then my thoughts (from far where I abide)
Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,
Looking on darkness which the blind do see:
Save that my soul's imaginary sight
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous, and her old face new.

Lo, thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind,
For thee, and for myself, no quiet find.


How can I then return in happy plight,
That am debarr'd the benefit of rest?
When day's oppression is not eas'd by night,
But day by night and night by day oppress’d?
And each, though enemies to either's reign,
Do in consent shake hands to torture me,
The one by toil, the other to complain
How far I toil, still farther off from thee.
I tell the day, to please him, thou art bright,
And dost him grace when clouds do blot the heaven:
So flatter I the swart-complexion'd night;
When sparkling stars twire not, thou gild'st the even.

* Twire. Malone proposed to read twirl, and Steevens conjectured that twire means quire. Gifford, in a note upon Ben Jonson's “Sad Shepherd,' explains that in the passage before us the meaning is “ when the stars do not gleam or appear at intervals." He adds, “ Twire should not have been suffered to grow obsolete, for we have no word now in use that can take its place, or be considered as precisely synonymous with it in sense : leer and twinkle are merely shades of it." Gifford quotes several passages from Jonson and Beaumont and Fletcher in confirmation of his opinion. But there are four lines in Drayton's 'Polyolbion which contain a parallel use of the word :-

Suppose lol. XII.


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But day doth daily draw my sorrows longer,
And night doth nightly make grief's length seem stronger.


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 possessid,
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 gate; *

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
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 times' waste :
Then can I drown an eye, unus'd to flow,
For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,
And weep afresh love's long-since cancell'd woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanish'd sight.

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Suppose 'twixt noon and night the sun is half-way wrought,
(The shadows to be large, by bis descending brought,)
Who with a fervent eye looks through the twiring glades,

And his dispersed rays commixeth with the shades.”
* See Cymbeline,' Illustrations of Act II.
b Dateless-endless—having no certain time of expiration.

• If we understand expense to be used as analogous to passing away, there is no difficulty in this line. What we expend is gone from us; and so the poet moans the expense of many a vanished sight. Malone thinks that sight is used for sigh ; but this is certainly a very strained conjecture.



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.


Thy bosom is endeared with all hearts,
Which I by lacking have supposed dead;
And there reigns love and all love's loving parts,
And all those friends which I thought buried.
How many a holy and obsequious tear
Hath dear religious love stolen from mine

As interest of the dead, which now appear
But things remov'd, that hidden in thee lie!
Thou art the grave where buried love doth live,
Hung with the trophies of my lovers gone,
Who all their parts of me to thee did give;
That due of many now is thine alone:

Their images I lov'd I view in thee,
And thou (all they) hast all the all of me.


If thou survive my well-contented day,
When that churl Death my bones with dust shall cover,
And shalt by fortune once more re-survey
These poor rude lines of thy deceased lover,
Compare them with the bettering of the time;
And though they be outstripp'd by every pen,
Reserve b them for my love, not for their rhyme,
Exceeded by the height of happier men.
O then vouchsafe me but this loving thought!
“ Had my friend's muse grown with this growing age,
A dearer birth than this his love had brought,
To march in ranks of better equipage:

Obsequious—funereal. Reserve—the same as preserve. In · Pericles' we have

Reserve that excellent complexion."

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