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Whilst I alone did call upon thy aid,
My verse alone had all thy gentle grace,
But now my gracious numbers are decayed,
And my sick muse doth give another place.
I grant, sweet love, thy lovely argument
Deserves the travail of a worthier pen,
Yet what of thee thy poet doth invent
He robs thee of and pays it thee again.
He lends thee virtue, and he stole that word
From thy behavior; beauty doth he give
And found it in thy cheek; he can afford
No praise to thee but what in thee doth live.
  Then thank him not for that which he doth say,
  Since what he owes thee thou thyself dost pay.
When I was the only writer who looked to you for inspiration, only my poetry received all of the benefits of your noble grace. But now the poems I write under your inspiration have gotten worse, and I’m forced to make room for someone else. I admit, my sweet love, that such a lovely subject as you deserves to have a better writer working for you. But whatever your new poet says about you, he’s only stealing the ideas from you and giving them back to you. He says you’re virtuous, but he only learned that word from watching your behavior. He says you’re beautiful, but he only found out about beauty from your face. He has no praise to give you except for what he finds in you already. So don’t thank him for what he says about you, since you’re paying for everything he gives you.

Popular pages: Shakespeare’s Sonnets