Original Text

Modern Text

Like as to make our appetites more keen
With eager compounds we our palate urge;
As, to prevent our maladies unseen,
We sicken to shun sickness when we purge;
Ev'n so, being full of your ne'er-cloying sweetness,
To bitter sauces did I frame my feeding;
And, sick of welfare, found a kind of meetness
To be diseased ere that there was true needing.
Thus policy in love, t' anticipate
The ills that were not, grew to faults assured,
And brought to medicine a healthful state
Which, rank of goodness, would by ill be cured;
  But thence I learn, and find the lesson true,
  Drugs poison him that so fell sick of you.
Just as we like to sharpen our appetites by eating pungent combinations of food or make ourselves vomit in order to ward off future illness, so, in the same way, because I was so full of your sweetness (not that it’s ever cloying), I decided to switch from you to a more bitter diet. And because I was tired of being so healthy, I decided it would be good to make myself


This is a reference to the Renaissance practice of “purging,” which was thought to be healthy.

, using other people to keep from getting sick of you. With this wise relationship strategy, which I adopted in anticipation of problems that didn’t exist, I actually became used to cheating on you. I applied medicine to a relationship that was healthy to begin with, attempting to cure something totally good by applying evil to it. But I learned from this—and I think what I learned is true—that the drugs I used are poisonous to me, since I’m so lovesick over you.

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