Original Text

Modern Text

Who will believe my verse in time to come
If it were filled with your most high deserts?
Though yet heav'n knows it is but as a tomb
Which hides your life and shows not half your parts.
If I could write the beauty of your eyes
And in fresh numbers number all your graces,
The age to come would say, “This poet lies—
Such heavenly touches ne'er touched earthly faces.”
So should my papers, yellowed with their age,
Be scorned, like old men of less truth than tongue,
And your true rights be termed a poet’s rage
And stretchèd meter of an ántique song;
  But were some child of yours alive that time,
  You should live twice: in it and in my rhyme.
Who in the future will ever believe my poetry if I praise you as you deserve? Though, I have to admit, my poetry is like a tomb that actually hides what you are really like and doesn’t manage to show even half of your true qualities. If I could capture in my writing how beautiful your eyes are and create new verses to list all of your wonderful attributes, decades from now people would say, “This poet lies. No human face was ever so divine.” In this way, my poems (yellowed with age), would be scorned, like old men who talk too much without saying anything true, and what is really your due would be dismissed as a poet’s madness, the false verses of an old song. But if some child of yours were still alive then, you would live twice: in the child, and in my poetry.

Popular pages: Shakespeare’s Sonnets