Original Text

Modern Text

Those parts of thee that the world’s eye doth view
Want nothing that the thought of hearts can mend.
All tongues, the voice of souls, give thee that due,
Utt'ring bare truth, ev'n so as foes commend.
Thy outward thus with outward praise is crowned;
But those same tongues that give thee so thine own
In other accents do this praise confound
By seeing farther than the eye hath shown.
They look into the beauty of thy mind,
And that in guess they measure by thy deeds;
Then, churls, their thoughts (although their eyes were kind)
To thy fair flower add the rank smell of weeds;
  But why thy odor matcheth not thy show,
  The soil is this, that thou dost common grow.
Those parts of you that are visible to the world lack nothing, and no one could imagine improving them. Everybody admits this unreservedly, though they’re only saying what’s obviously true—what even your enemies praise you for. Thus, your outside is rewarded with public praise. But the same people who give you the praise your beauty deserves take quite another tack once they’ve looked beyond the surface. These people examine the beauty of your mind and character, and they guess at what’s in there by observing your actions. Then, though they judged your appearance kindly, their harsh thoughts tell them that although you appear beautiful you smell corrupt. So, if you don’t smell as good as you look, this is the reason: You’re hanging out with lowlifes.

Popular pages: Shakespeare’s Sonnets