Poem by William Shakespeare
Poem by William Shakespeare
The little Love-god lying once asleep
Laid by his side his heart-inflaming brand,
Whilst many nymphs that vowed chaste life to keep
Came tripping by, but in her maiden hand
The fairest votary took up that fire,
Which many legions of true hearts had warmed ;
And so the general of hot desire
Was, sleeping, by a virgin hand disarmed.
This brand she quenched in a cool well by,
Which from Love’s fire took heart perpetual,
Growing a bath and healthful remedy
For men diseased ; But I, my mistress’ thrall,
Came there for cure, and this by that I prove :
Love’s fire heats water, water cools not love.
Cupid laid by his brand and fell asleep.
A maid of Dian’s this advantage found,
And his love-kindling fire did quickly steep
In a cold valley-fountain of that ground ;
Which borrowed from this holy fire of Love
A dateless lively heat, still to endure,
And grew a seething bath, which yet men prove
Against strange maladies a sovereign cure.
But at my mistress’ eye Love’s brand new-fired,
The boy for trial needs would touch my breast ;
I, sick withal, the help of bath desired,
And thither hied, a sad distempered guest,
But found no cure ; the bath for my help lies
Where Cupid got new fire – my mistress’ eyes.
In loving thee thou know’st I am forsworn,
But thou art twice forsworn, to me love swearing ;
In act thy bed-vow broke, and new faith torn
In vowing new hate after new love bearing.
But why of two oaths’ breach do I accuse thee,
When I break twenty ? I am perjured most,
For all my vows are oaths but to misuse thee,
And all my honest faith in thee is lost ;
For I have sworn deep oaths of thy deep kindness,
Oaths of thy love, thy truth, thy constantcy ;
And, to enlighten thee, gave eyes to blindness,
Or made them swear against the thing they see ;
For I have sworn thee fair ; more perjured eye,
To swear against the truth so foul a lie.
Love is too young to know what conscience is,
Yet who knows not conscience is born of love ?
Then, gentle cheater, urge not my amiss,
Lest guilty of my faults thy sweet self prove.
For, thou betraying me, I do betray
My nobler part to my gross body’s treason ;
My soul doth tell my body that he may
Triumph in love ; flesh stays no farther reason,
But, rising at thy name, doth point out thee,
As his triumphant prize. Proud of this pride,
He is contented thy poor drudge to be,
To stand in thy affairs, fall by thy side.
No want of conscience hold it that I call
Her “love” for whose dear love I rise and fall.
O, from what pow’r hast thou this pow’rful might
With insufficiency my heart to sway ?
To make me give the lie to my true sight
And swear that brightness doth not grace the day ?
Whence hast thou this becoming of things ill
That in the very refuse of thy deeds
There is such strength and warrantize of skill
That in my mind thy worst all best exceeds ?
Who taught thee how to make me love thee more,
The more I hear and see just cause of hate ?
O, though I love what others do abhor,
With others thou shouldst not abhor my state :
If thy unworthiness raised love in me,
More worthy I to be beloved of thee.
Canst thou, O cruel, Say I love thee not,
When I against myself with thee partake ?
Do I not think on thee when I forgot
Am of myself, all tyrant for thy sake ?
Who hateth thee that I do call my friend ?
On whom frown’st thou that I do fawn upon ?
Nay, if thou lour’st on me, do I not spend
Revenge upon myself with present moan ?
What merit do I in myself respect
That is so proud thy service to despise,
When all my best doth worship thy defect,
Commanded by the motion of thine eyes ?
But, love, hate on, for now I know thy mind ;
Those that can see thou lov’st, and I am blind.
O me, what eyes hath Love put in my head,
Which have no correspondence with true sight !
Or, if they have, where is my judgement fled,
That censures falsely what they see aright ?
If that be fair whereupon my false eyes dote,
What means the world to say it is not so ?
If it be not, then love doth well denote
Love’s eye is not so true as all men’s no.
How can it ? O, how can Love’s eye be true,
That is so vexed with watching and with tears ?
No marvel then though I mistake my view ;
The sun itself sees not till heaven clears.
O cunning Love, with tears thou keep’st me blind,
Lest eyes well-seeing thy foul faults should find.
My love is as a fever, longing still
For that which longer nurseth the disease,
Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,
Th’ uncertain sickly appetite to please.
My reason, the physician to my love,
Angry that his prescriptions are not kept,
Hath left me, and I desperate now approve
Desire is death, which psychic did except.
Past cure I am, now reason is past care,
And frantic-mad with evermore unrest ;
My thoughts and my discourse as madmen’s are,
At random from the truth vainly expressed :
For I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright,
Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.
Poor soul, the center of my sinful earth,
My sinful earth these rebel pow’rs that thee array,
Why dost thou pine within and suffer dearth,
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 rich no more :
So shalt thou feed on Death, that feeds on men,
And Death once dead, there’s no more dying then.