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by William Shakespeare


When my love swears that she is made of truth,

I do believe her (though I know she lies)

That she might think me some untutor’d youth,

Unskillful in the world’s false forgeries.

Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,

Although I know my years be past the best,

I smiling credit her false-speaking tongue,

Outfacing faults in love with love’s ill rest.

But wherefore says my love that she is young?

And wherefore say not I that I am old?

O, love’s best habit’s in a soothing tongue,

And age in love, loves not to have years told.

Therefore I’ll lie with love, and love with me,

Since that our faults in love thus smother’d be.


Two loves I have, of comfort and despair,

That like two spirits do suggest me still:

My better angel is a man (right fair),

My worser spirit a woman (color’d ill).

To win me soon to hell, my female evil

Tempteth my better angel from my side;

And would corrupt my saint to be a devil,

Wooing his purity with her fair pride.

And whether that my angel be turn’d fiend,

Suspect I may (yet not directly tell):

For being both to me, both to each friend,

I guess one angel in another’s hell:

The truth I shall not know, but live in doubt,

Till my bad angel fire my good one out.


Did not the heavenly rhetoric of thine eye,

’Gainst whom the world could not hold argument,

Persuade my heart to this false perjury?

Vows for thee broke deserve not punishment.

A woman I forswore; but I will prove,

Thou being a goddess, I forswore not thee:

My vow was earthly, thou a heavenly love;

Thy grace being gain’d cures all disgrace in me.

My vow was breath, and breath a vapor is,

Then thou, fair sun, that on this earth doth shine,

Exhal’st this vapor vow, in thee it is:

If broken, then it is no fault of mine.

If by me broke, what fool is not so wise

To break an oath, to win a paradise?


Sweet Cytherea, sitting by a brook

With young Adonis, lovely, fresh, and green,

Did court the lad with many a lovely look,

Such looks as none could look but beauty’s queen.

She told him stories to delight his ear;

She show’d him favors to allure his eye;

To win his heart she touch’d him here and there—

Touches so soft still conquer chastity.

But whether unripe years did want conceit,

Or he refus’d to take her figured proffer,

The tender nibbler would not touch the bait,

But smile and jest at every gentle offer.

Then fell she on her back, fair queen, and toward:

He rose and ran away, ah, fool too froward!


If love make me forsworn, how shall I swear to love?

O, never faith could hold, if not to beauty vowed:

Though to myself forsworn, to thee I’ll constant prove;

Those thoughts to me like oaks, to thee like osiers bowed.

Study his bias leaves, and makes his book thine eyes,

Where all those pleasures live that art can comprehend.

If knowledge be the mark, to know thee shall suffice:

Well learned is that tongue that well can thee commend,

All ignorant that soul that sees thee without wonder,

Which is to me some praise, that I thy parts admire.

Thine eye Jove’s lightning seems, thy voice his dreadful thunder,

Which, not to anger bent, is music and sweet fire.

Celestial as thou art, O, do not love that wrong:

To sing heaven’s praise with such an earthly tongue.


Scarce had the sun dried up the dewy morn,

And scarce the herd gone to the hedge for shade,

When Cytherea (all in love forlorn)

A longing tarriance for Adonis made

Under an osier growing by a brook,

A brook where Adon us’d to cool his spleen.

Hot was the day, she hotter that did look

For his approach, that often there had been.

Anon he comes, and throws his mantle by,

And stood stark naked on the brook’s green brim.

The sun look’d on the world with glorious eye,

Yet not so wistly as this queen on him.

He spying her, bounc’d in, whereas he stood;

“O Jove,” quoth she, “why was not I a flood?”


Fair is my love, but not so fair as fickle,

Mild as a dove, but neither true nor trusty,

Brighter than glass, and yet as glass is brittle,

Softer than wax, and yet as iron rusty:

A lily pale, with damask dye to grace her,

None fairer, nor none falser to deface her.

Her lips to mine how often hath she joined,

Between each kiss her oaths of true love swearing!

How many tales to please me hath she coined,

Dreading my love, the loss whereof still fearing!

Yet in the mids of all her pure protestings,

Her faith, her oaths, her tears, and all were jestings.

She burnt with love, as straw with fire flameth,

She burnt out love, as soon as straw out-burneth;

She fram’d the love, and yet she foil’d the framing,

She bade love last, and yet she fell a-turning.

Was this a lover, or a lecher whether?

Bad in the best, though excellent in neither.


If music and sweet poetry agree,

As they must needs (the sister and the brother),

Then must the love be great ’twixt thee and me,

Because thou lov’st the one, and I the other.

Dowland to thee is dear, whose heavenly touch

Upon the lute doth ravish human sense;

Spenser to me, whose deep conceit is such

As passing all conceit, needs no defense.

Thou lov’st to hear the sweet melodious sound

That Phoebus’ lute, the queen of music, makes;

And I in deep delight am chiefly drown’d

When as himself to singing he betakes.

One god is god of both (as poets feign),

One knight loves both, and both in thee remain.


Fair was the morn when the fair queen of love,

[. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ]

Paler for sorrow than her milk-white dove,

For Adon’s sake, a youngster proud and wild,

Her stand she takes upon a steep-up hill.

Anon Adonis comes with horn and hounds;

She, silly queen, with more than love’s good will,

Forbade the boy he should not pass those grounds.

“Once,” quoth she, “did I see a fair sweet youth

Here in these brakes deep-wounded with a boar,

Deep in the thigh, a spectacle of ruth!

See, in my thigh,” quoth she, “here was the sore.”

She showed hers, he saw more wounds than one,

And blushing fled, and left her all alone.


Sweet rose, fair flower, untimely pluck’d, soon vaded,

Pluck’d in the bud, and vaded in the spring!

Bright orient pearl, alack, too timely shaded!

Fair creature, kill’d too soon by death’s sharp sting!

Like a green plum that hangs upon a tree,

And falls (through wind) before the fall should be.

I weep for thee, and yet no cause I have,

For why: thou lefts me nothing in thy will;

And yet thou lefts me more than I did crave,

For why: I craved nothing of thee still.

O yes, dear friend, I pardon crave of thee,

Thy discontent thou didst bequeath to me.


Venus, with Adonis sitting by her,

Under a myrtle shade began to woo him.

She told the youngling how god Mars did try her,

And as he fell to her, she fell to him.

“Even thus,” quoth she, “the warlike god embrac’d me,”

And then she clipt Adonis in her arms;

“Even thus,” quoth she, “the warlike god unlac’d me,”

As if the boy should use like loving charms;

“Even thus,” quoth she, “he seized on my lips,”

And with her lips on his did act the seizure:

And as she fetched breath, away he skips,

And would not take her meaning nor her pleasure.

Ah, that I had my lady at this bay:

To kiss and clip me till I run away!


Crabbed age and youth cannot live together:

Youth is full of pleasance, age is full of care,

Youth like summer morn, age like winter weather,

Youth like summer brave, age like winter bare.

Youth is full of sport, age’s breath is short,

Youth is nimble, age is lame,

Youth is hot and bold, age is weak and cold,

Youth is wild, and age is tame.

Age, I do abhor thee, youth, I do adore thee:

O, my love, my love is young!

Age, I do defy thee. O sweet shepherd, hie thee,

For methinks thou stays too long.


Beauty is but a vain and doubtful good,

A shining gloss that vadeth suddenly,

A flower that dies when first it gins to bud,

A brittle glass that’s broken presently:

A doubtful good, a gloss, a glass, a flower,

Lost, vaded, broken, dead within an hour.

And as goods lost are seld or never found,

As vaded gloss no rubbing will refresh,

As flowers dead lie withered on the ground,

As broken glass no cement can redress:

So beauty blemish’d once, forever lost,

In spite of physic, painting, pain, and cost.


Good night, good rest, ah, neither be my share!

She bade good night that kept my rest away,

And daff’d me to a cabin hang’d with care,

To descant on the doubts of my decay.

“Farewell,” quoth she, “and come again tomorrow.”

Fare well I could not, for I supp’d with sorrow.

Yet at my parting sweetly did she smile,

In scorn or friendship, nill I conster whether.

’T may be she joy’d to jest at my exile,

’T may be again, to make me wander thither:

“Wander,” a word for shadows like myself,

As take the pain but cannot pluck the pelf.

Lord, how mine eyes throw gazes to the east!

My heart doth charge the watch; the morning rise

Doth cite each moving sense from idle rest,

Not daring trust the office of mine eyes.

While Philomela sits and sings, I sit and mark,

And wish her lays were tuned like the lark.

For she doth welcome daylight with her ditty,

And drives away dark dreaming night.

The night so pack’d, I post unto my pretty;

Heart hath his hope, and eyes their wished sight:

Sorrow chang’d to solace, and solace mix’d with sorrow;

For why, she sight, and bade me come tomorrow.

Were I with her, the night would post too soon,

But now are minutes added to the hours;

To spite me now, each minute seems a moon,

Yet not for me, shine sun to succor flowers!

Pack night, peep day; good day, of night now borrow:

Short night tonight, and length thyself tomorrow.

Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Music


It was a lording’s daughter, the fairest one of three,

That liked of her master, as well as well might be,

Till looking on an Englishman, the fairest that eye could see,

Her fancy fell a-turning.

Long was the combat doubtful, that love with love did fight,

To leave the master loveless, or kill the gallant knight:

To put in practice either, alas, it was a spite

Unto the silly damsel!

But one must be refused; more mickle was the pain,

That nothing could be used, to turn them both to gain,

For of the two the trusty knight was wounded with disdain:

Alas, she could not help it!

Thus art with arms contending was victor of the day,

Which by a gift of learning did bear the maid away:

Then lullaby, the learned man hath got the lady gay,

For now my song is ended.


On a day (alack the day!)

Love, whose month was ever May,

Spied a blossom passing fair,

Playing in the wanton air.

Through the velvet leaves the wind

All unseen gan passage find,

That the lover, sick to death,

Wish’d himself the heavens’ breath.

“Air,” quoth he, “thy cheeks may blow,

Air, would I might triumph so!

But (alas) my hand hath sworn

Ne’er to pluck thee from thy thorn,

Vow (alack) for youth unmeet,

Youth, so apt to pluck a sweet.

Thou for whom Jove would swear

Juno but an Ethiope were,

And deny himself for Jove,

Turning mortal for thy love.”


My flocks feed not, my ewes breed not,

My rams speed not, all is amiss;

Love is dying, faith’s defying,

Heart’s denying, causer of this.

All my merry jigs are quite forgot,

All my lady’s love is lost, God wot.

Where her faith was firmly fix’d in love,

There a nay is plac’d without remove.

One silly cross wrought all my loss,

O frowning Fortune, cursed, fickle dame!

For now I see inconstancy

More in women than in men remain.

In black mourn I, all fears scorn I,

Love hath forlorn me, living in thrall;

Heart is bleeding, all help needing,

O cruel speeding, fraughted with gall.

My shepherd’s pipe can sound no deal,

My wether’s bell rings doleful knell,

My curtal dog, that wont to have play’d,

Plays not at all, but seems afraid;

With sighs so deep procures to weep,

In howling wise, to see my doleful plight.

How sighs resound through heartless ground,

Like a thousand vanquish’d men in bloody fight!

Clear wells spring not, sweet birds sing not,

Green plants bring not forth their dye;

Herds stands weeping, flocks all sleeping,

Nymphs back peeping fearfully.

All our pleasure known to us poor swains,

All our merry meetings on the plains,

All our evening sport from us is fled,

All our love is lost, for Love is dead.

Farewell, sweet lass, thy like ne’er was

For a sweet content, the cause of all my moan.

Poor Corydon must live alone,

Other help for him I see that there is none.


When as thine eye hath chose the dame,

And stall’d the deer that thou shouldst strike,

Let reason rule things worthy blame,

As well as fancy, partial might.

Take counsel of some wiser head,

Neither too young nor yet unwed.

And when thou com’st thy tale to tell,

Smooth not thy tongue with filed talk,

Lest she some subtile practice smell—

A cripple soon can find a halt—

But plainly say thou lov’st her well,

And set her person forth to sale.

And to her will frame all thy ways,

Spare not to spend, and chiefly there

Where thy desert may merit praise,

By ringing in thy lady’s ear.

The strongest castle, tower, and town,

The golden bullet beats it down.

Serve always with assured trust,

And in thy suit be humble true;

Unless thy lady prove unjust,

Press never thou to choose anew.

When time shall serve, be thou not slack

To proffer, though she put thee back.

What though her frowning brows be bent,

Her cloudy looks will calm yer night,

And then too late she will repent,

That thus dissembled her delight;

And twice desire, yer it be day,

That which with scorn she put away.

What though she strive to try her strength,

And ban and brawl, and say thee nay,

Her feeble force will yield at length,

When craft hath taught her thus to say:

“Had women been so strong as men,

In faith, you had not had it then.”

The wiles and guiles that women work,

Dissembled with an outward show,

The tricks and toys that in them lurk,

The cock that treads them shall not know.

Have you not heard it said full oft,

A woman’s nay doth stand for nought?

Think women still to strive with men,

To sin and never for to saint:

There is no heaven, be holy then,

When time with age shall them attaint.

Were kisses all the joys in bed,

One woman would another wed.

But soft, enough—too much, I fear—

Lest that my mistress hear my song;

She will not stick to round me on th’ ear,

To teach my tongue to be so long.

Yet will she blush, here be it said,

To hear her secrets so bewray’d.


Live with me and be my love,

And we will all the pleasures prove

That hills and valleys, dales and fields,

And all the craggy mountains yield.

There will we sit upon the rocks,

And see the shepherds feed their flocks,

By shallow rivers, by whose falls

Melodious birds sing madrigals.

There will I make thee a bed of roses,

With a thousand fragrant posies,

A cap of flowers, and a kirtle

Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;

A belt of straw and ivy buds,

With coral clasps and amber studs:

And if these pleasures may thee move,

Then live with me, and be my love.

Love’s Answer

If that the world and love were young,

And truth in every shepherd’s tongue,

These pretty pleasures might me move,

To live with thee and be thy love.


As it fell upon a day,

In the merry month of May,

Sitting in a pleasant shade,

Which a grove of myrtles made,

Beasts did leap and birds did sing,

Trees did grow and plants did spring;

Every thing did banish moan,

Save the nightingale alone.

She, poor bird, as all forlorn,

Lean’d her breast up-till a thorn,

And there sung the dolefull’st ditty,

That to hear it was great pity.

“Fie, fie, fie,” now would she cry,

“Tereu, tereu,” by and by;

That to hear her so complain,

Scarce I could from tears refrain;

For her griefs, so lively shown,

Made me think upon mine own.

Ah, thought I, thou mourn’st in vain,

None takes pity on thy pain.

Senseless trees, they cannot hear thee,

Ruthless bears, they will not cheer thee.

King Pandion, he is dead:

All thy friends are lapp’d in lead;

All thy fellow birds do sing,

Careless of thy sorrowing.

Whilst as fickle Fortune smil’d,

Thou and I were both beguil’d.

Every one that flatters thee

Is no friend in misery.

Words are easy, like the wind,

Faithful friends are hard to find:

Every man will be thy friend,

Whilst thou hast wherewith to spend;

But if store of crowns be scant,

No man will supply thy want.

If that one be prodigal,

Bountiful they will him call;

And with such-like flattering,

“Pity but he were a king!”

If he be addict to vice,

Quickly him they will entice;

If to women he be bent,

They have at commandment.

But if Fortune once do frown,

Then farewell his great renown;

They that fawn’d on him before

Use his company no more.

He that is thy friend indeed,

He will help thee in thy need:

If thou sorrow, he will weep;

If thou wake, he cannot sleep;

Thus of every grief in heart

He with thee doth bear a part.

These are certain signs to know

Faithful friend from flatt’ring foe.

Play Sources

None known.

Text Sources

Octavo 2 of 1609

Version 3.4

This document is strictly copyrighted and may not be copied, altered, or distributed.


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