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That you were once unkind befriends me now,
And for that sorrow which I then did feel
Needs must I under my transgression bow,
Unless my nerves were brass or hammered steel.
For if you were by my unkindness shaken,
As I by yours, you’ve passed a hell of time,
And I, a tyrant, have no leisure taken
To weigh how once I suffered in your crime.
O that our night of woe might have rememb’red
My deepest sense, how hard true sorrow hits,
And soon to you as you to me then tendered
The humble salve which wounded bosoms fits!
  But that your trespass now becomes a fee;
  Mine ransoms yours, and yours must ransom me.
The fact that you were once cruel to me helps me now. Because of the sorrow that you made me feel then, I would have to be made of steel not to be bowed down to the ground with guilt over how I’ve hurt you. For if you’ve felt my unkindness to you the way I felt yours to me, you’ve endured a time in hell and I’ve acted like a cruel tyrant, never taking the time to think about how I once suffered when you committed the same crime against me. Oh, how I wish that your earlier sorrow had reminded me of how hard true sorrow hits, so that I would have apologized to you as fast as you apologized to me, giving you the medicine that an injured heart needs most! But your earlier offense against me can now compensate you for what I’ve just done. My offense cancels out yours, and yours must cancel out mine.

Popular pages: Shakespeare’s Sonnets