Original Text

Modern Text

But be contented when that fell arrest
Without all bail shall carry me away;
My life hath in this line some interest,
Which for memorial still with thee shall stay.
When thou reviewest this, thou dost review
The very part was consecrate to thee.
The earth can have but earth, which is his due;
My spirit is thine, the better part of me.
So then thou hast but lost the dregs of life,
The prey of worms, my body being dead,
The coward conquest of a wretch’s knife,
Too base of thee to be rememb’red.
  The worth of that is that which it contains,
  And that is this, and this with thee remains.
(Continuing from Sonnet 73) But don’t be upset when death arrives to carry me off where no one can release me. My life will continue to some extent in these lines, which you’ll always have to remember me by. When you reread this, you’ll be seeing again the precise part of me that was dedicated to you. The earth can only have the earthly part of me, which is what belongs to it. My spirit, the better part of me, is yours. So when I’m dead you’ll have only my body—the dregs of my life, the part that worms eat, the only part of me that cowardly, wretched death could kill, the part that’s too worthless for you to remember. What gives my body its worth is the spirit it contains, and that spirit is this poem, and this poem will remain with you.

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