Original Text

Modern Text

But wherefore do not you a mightier way
Make war upon this bloody tyrant, time,
And fortify yourself in your decay
With means more blessèd than my barren rhyme?
Now stand you on the top of happy hours,
And many maiden gardens, yet unset,
With virtuous wish would bear your living flowers,
Much liker than your painted counterfeit.
So should the lines of life that life repair
Which this time’s pencil or my pupil pen
Neither in inward worth nor outward fair
Can make you live yourself in eyes of men.
  To give away yourself keeps yourself still,
  And you must live, drawn by your own sweet skill.
(Continuing from Sonnet 15)But why not take advantage of a stronger way to fight against this bloody tyrant, Time, and strengthen yourself in your old age in a happier way than with my useless sonnets? Now your capacity for pleasure is at its peak, and many virtuous maidens would love to marry you and bear your children, who would recreate your image much better than any artificial reproduction such as a painting or poem. The faces of your children will renew your life. Time created you and brought you to your present state of perfection, but it cannot preserve your inner worth or outer beauty, and neither can my poetry. Having a baby would preserve your image and ensure that you live on by your own design.

Popular pages: Shakespeare’s Sonnets