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When thou shalt be disposed to set me light
And place my merit in the eye of scorn,
Upon thy side against myself I’ll fight,
And prove thee virtuous, though thou art forsworn.
With mine own weakness being best acquainted,
Upon thy part I can set down a story
Of faults concealed, wherein I am attainted,
That thou in losing me shalt win much glory.
And I by this will be a gainer too,
For bending all my loving thoughts on thee,
The injuries that to myself I do,
Doing thee vantage, double vantage me.
  Such is my love, to thee I so belong,
  That for thy right myself will bear all wrong.
When you feel inclined to think little of me and make other people scorn me, I’ll take your side and argue against myself, demonstrating that you’re virtuous even while you’re lying about me. Since I know my own weaknesses better than anyone, I can tell a story about my hidden faults (in which I reveal myself as morally tainted) that will have people thinking better of you for not being with me anymore. And I, too, will gain by turning all my loving thoughts to you: Whatever injuries I do to myself will help you, which will help me doubly. I love you so much—belong to you so totally—that to get you everything you’re entitled to, I will take every wrong upon myself.

Popular pages: Shakespeare’s Sonnets