Original Text

Modern Text

How can I then return in happy plight
That am debarred the benefit of rest?
When day’s oppression is not eased by night,
But day by night and night by day oppressed?
And each, though enemies to either’s reign,
Do in consent shake hands to torture me,
The one by toil, the other to complain
How far I toil, still farther off from thee.
I tell the day to please him thou art bright,
And dost him grace when clouds do blot the heaven.
So flatter I the swart-complexioned night,
When sparkling stars twire not, thou gild’st the even.
  But day doth daily draw my sorrows longer,
  And night doth nightly make grief’s length seem stronger.
(Continuing from Sonnet 27) So how can I return in a cheerful state of mind when I’m prevented from getting any rest? When the oppression I experience during the day isn’t relieved by any sleep at night, but instead my sleepless nights oppress me during the day and my wearisome days oppress me at night? And though day and night are natural enemies, they’ve shook hands and made a bargain to both torture me, the day with labor, the night with thoughts of how far away you are as I labor over thoughts of you. I try to please the day by telling him how bright you are—so bright that you take the sun’s place when clouds cover the sky. In the same way, I use you to flatter black night, telling him how you brighten the evening sky when stars don’t shine. But they both—day and night—only prolong my sorrows, and night by night this prolonged grief grows stronger.

Popular pages: Shakespeare’s Sonnets