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Who is it that says most, which can say more
Than this rich praise, that you alone are you—
In whose conf'ne immurèd is the store
Which should example where your equal grew?
Lean penury within that pen doth dwell
That to his subject lends not some small glory.
But he that writes of you, if he can tell
That you are you, so dignifies his story.
Let him but copy what in you is writ,
Not making worse what nature made so clear,
And such a counterpart shall fame his wit,
Making his style admired everywhere.
  You to your beauteous blessings add a curse,
  Being fond on praise, which makes your praises worse.
Which writer says the most about you? Which of them can say anything more to praise you than that only you are you, and that all beauty is stored in you, so that there’s nothing to compare you to but yourself? Only a very poor writer is unable to improve the subject he’s writing about at least a little, but whoever writes about you will have given his writing dignity simply by reporting that you are you. If that writer simply describes you accurately, managing not to mess up what nature made so perfectly, he’ll have created such an image that his writing skills will become famous, his style admired everywhere. For all of the beauty you’re blessed with, you curse yourself by loving to hear yourself praised so much, because then people write worse praise trying to flatter you.

Popular pages: Shakespeare’s Sonnets