Original Text

Modern Text

Love is too young to know what conscience is,
Yet who knows not conscience is born of love?
Then, gentle cheater, urge not my amiss,
Lest guilty of my faults thy sweet self prove;
For, thou betraying me, I do betray
My nobler part to my gross body’s treason.
My soul doth tell my body that he may
Triumph in love—flesh stays no father reason,
But, rising at thy name, doth point out thee
As his triumphant prize—proud of this pride,
He is contented thy poor drudge to be,
To stand in thy affairs, fall by thy side.
  No want of conscience hold it that I call
  Her “love” for whose dear love I rise and fall.
Cupid is too young to know right from wrong, but doesn’t everybody know that love is what gives you a conscience? In that case, gentle cheater, don’t criticize me too harshly for my mistake, because your sweet self might turn out to be guilty of the same faults. Because you betray me, I betray my soul to my dumb, rebellious body. My soul tells my body that it can have its way in love. My flesh doesn’t wait to hear any more, but at the sound of your name it rises up and points you out as its prize. My flesh, proud of having you, is happy to be your poor worker, to stand up to do your business and fall down beside you afterward. Do not assume my conscience is lacking just because the woman I call “love” makes my flesh rise and fall for her love.

Popular pages: Shakespeare’s Sonnets