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How sweet and lovely dost thou make the shame
Which, like a canker in the fragrant rose,
Doth spot the beauty of thy budding name!
O in what sweets dost thou thy sins enclose!
That tongue that tells the story of thy days,
Making lascivious comments on thy sport,
Cannot dispraise but in a kind of praise;
Naming thy name blesses an ill report.
O what a mansion have those vices got
Which for their habitation chose out thee,
Where beauty’s veil doth cover every blot,
And all things turns to fair that eyes can see!
  Take heed, dear heart, of this large privilege;
  The hardest knife ill used doth lose his edge.
You make the flaw that’s ruining your reputation (like a worm infecting a rosebud) look so sweet and lovely. Oh, you cover up your sins with such a sweet exterior! The person who accuses you of wild lust somehow manages to turn his criticisms into praise: Your name makes bad actions look good. Oh, the vices you have inside you live in a beautiful house. Your beauty serves as a veil that makes every bad thing you do seem good! But be careful, dear heart, with this great privilege that your beauty gives you. If you abuse it, it will stop working, like a knife that loses its edge from misuse.

Popular pages: Shakespeare’s Sonnets