Original Text

Modern Text

Thy gift, thy tables, are within my brain
Full charactered with lasting memory,
Which shall above that idle rank remain
Beyond all date, ev'n to eternity;
Or at the least, so long as brain and heart
Have faculty by nature to subsist;
Till each to razed oblivion yield his part
Of thee, thy record never can be missed.
That poor retention could not so much hold,
Nor need I tallies thy dear love to score;
Therefore to give them from me was I bold,
To trust those tables that receive thee more;
  To keep an adjunct to remember thee
  Were to import forgetfulness in me.
In my mind, I’ve already filled up the

blank book

This sonnet can be read two ways: either the speaker was given a notebook in which the addressee had already written, or he was given a completely blank book. (This translation adopts the second reading.)

blank book
you gave me with words that will remain in my memory longer than they would in that flimsy little book. In my memory, what I wrote about you will outlast any date, even to eternity. Or at least this record of you won’t be lost as long as my brain and heart survive—until each of them is forced to give up its part of you and pass into oblivion. That poor little notebook couldn’t hold as much as my memory can, and I have no need to keep notes to remember how much I love you. Therefore I was bold enough to give away your notebook, trusting in my own memory to keep a better record of you. For me to use an aid to remember you would imply that I’m forgetful.

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