Original Text

Modern Text

Poor soul, the center of my sinful earth,
Why dost thou pine within and suffer dearth,
Painting thy outward walls so costly gay?
Why so large cost, having so short a lease,
Dost thou upon thy fading mansion spend?
Shall worms, inheritors of this excess,
Eat up thy charge? Is this thy body’s end?
Then, soul, live thou upon thy servant’s loss,
And let that pine to aggravate thy store;
Buy terms divine in selling hours of dross;
Within be fed, without be rich no more.
  So shalt thou feed on death, that feeds on men,
  And death once dead, there’s no more dying then.
My poor soul, you’re the very center of this sinful world, my body, which rebels against you. Why do you starve yourself inside me and suffer from a shortage of supplies while you dress your outside in such expensive finery? Why do you spend so much on your aging body when you get to occupy it for such a short time? All of this expenditure on a body that is eventually going to be eaten by the worms—do you want what you spend to be devoured by worms? Is this what your body was intended for? In that case, soul, feed yourself by starving your body; let it pine for food while you accumulate the riches. Buy time in heaven by giving up worthless time wasted on earth. Feed your inner self; let your body be poor. By starving your body, you will eat up death, which eats up men, and once death is dead, there’s no more dying then.

Popular pages: Shakespeare’s Sonnets