Original Text

Modern Text

Lo, as a careful housewife runs to catch
One of her feathered creatures broke away,
Sets down her babe and makes all swift dispatch
In púrsuit of the thing she would have stay;
Whilst her neglected child holds her in chase,
Cries to catch her whose busy care is bent
To follow that which flies before her face,
Not prizing her poor infant’s discontent:
So run’st thou after that which flies from thee,
Whilst I, thy babe, chase thee afar behind.
But if thou catch thy hope, turn back to me,
And play the mother’s part, kiss me, be kind.
  So will I pray that thou mayst have thy Will,
  If thou turn back and my loud crying still.
Like an anxious housewife who runs to catch one of her chickens that’s run away, setting down her baby to follow it while her neglected child chases after her and cries out to get her attention—she focusing all of her mind on trying to catch the chicken that’s flying in front of her, not caring about her infant’s distress—in the same way, you’re running after someone who’s running from you, while I, your baby, chase after you from far behind. But if you catch the one you’re hoping for, turn back to me and act like a mother. Kiss me, be kind. If you’ll turn back and stop my loud crying, I’ll pray that you’ll get to have your


As in Sonnets 135 and 136, the speaker’s mistress loves a man named Will who is not the speaker.


Popular pages: Shakespeare’s Sonnets