Original Text

Modern Text

Those lines that I before have writ do lie,
Ev'n those that said I could not love you dearer.
Yet then my judgment knew no reason why
My most full flame should afterwards burn clearer.
But reck'ning time, whose millioned accidents
Creep in ’twixt vows, and change decrees of kings,
Tan sacred beauty, blunt the sharp’st intents,
Divert strong minds to the course of alt'ring things.
Alas, why, fearing of time’s tyranny,
Might I not then say, “Now I love you best,”
When I was certain o'er incertainty,
Crowning the present, doubting of the rest?
  Love is a babe; then might I not say so,
  To give full growth to that which still doth grow?
I lied in those poems I wrote before where I said I couldn’t love you any more than I did already. Back then I had no reason to think that my love, which was already burning intensely, could burn any brighter. Instead, I was depending on the fact that the passage of time—together with the millions of unexpected events that can come between lovers' promises and change even the decrees of kings—might darken a lover’s sacred beauty, take the edge off of a lover’s keenest intentions, and force the strongest minds to adapt to changing circumstances. Alas, why didn’t I say back then, when I was worried about time’s destructive power, “I love you best now”? I was so certain of my feelings despite the uncertainty, and I was ready to say my present happiness was complete, though I had doubts about everything to come.


“Love itself is a baby”: Cupid, the god of love, was traditionally depicted as a baby boy.

itself is a baby, so wouldn’t it have been natural for me to have said that my love for you was fully grown, though it keeps growing?

Popular pages: Shakespeare’s Sonnets