Original Text

Modern Text

Sweet love, renew thy force; be it not said
Thy edge should blunter be than appetite,
Which but today by feeding is allayed,
Tomorrow sharpened in his former might.
So love be thou; although today thou fill
Thy hungry eyes even till they wink with fullness,
Tomorrow see again, and do not kill
The spirit of love with a perpetual dullness.
Let this sad int'rim like the ocean be
Which parts the shore, where two contracted new
Come daily to the banks, that when they see
Return of love, more blest may be the view;
  Else call it winter, which being full of care,
  Makes summer’s welcome, thrice more wished, more rare.


The speaker is addressing love the emotion, not an individual.

, be as strong as you used to be. Don’t let people say that love is less keen and persistent than lust, which may be satiated today but then comes back tomorrow just as strong and sharp as ever. That’s how you should be, love. Although today you see so much of your love that you want to shut your eyes, look again tomorrow: Do not kill your affection by making yourself perpetually dull and lethargic. Let this sad period of separation be like an ocean that lies between two opposite shores; two newly betrothed lovers come every day to the opposite banks hoping to see each other, and when they do, the sight feels especially blessed. Or call this time winter, which, being full of misery, makes us wish for summer three times more than if it didn’t feel so rare.

Popular pages: Shakespeare’s Sonnets