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Three sonnets by William Shakespeare for Valentine’s Day

He who needs no introduction on a poetry page

  • XXV
  • Let those who are in favour with their stars
  • Of public honour and proud titles boast,
  • Whilst I, whom fortune of such triumph bars,
  • Unlook’d for joy in that I honour most.
  • Great princes’ favourites their fair leaves spread
  • But as the marigold at the sun’s eye,
  • And in themselves their pride lies buried,
  • For at a frown they in their glory die.
  • The painful warrior famoused for fight,
  • After a thousand victories once foil’d,
  • Is from the book of honour razed quite,
  • And all the rest forgot for which he toil’d:
  •       Then happy I, that love and am belov’d
  •       Where I may not remove nor be remov’d.
  • XXXVI
  • Let me confess that we two must be twain,
  • Although our undivided loves are one:
  • So shall those blots that do with me remain,
  • Without thy help, by me be borne alone.
  • In our two loves there is but one respect,
  • Though in our lives a separable spite,
  • Which though it alter not love’s sole effect,
  • Yet doth it steal sweet hours from love’s delight.
  • I may not evermore acknowledge thee,
  • Lest my bewailed guilt should do thee shame,
  • Nor thou with public kindness honour me,
  • Unless thou take that honour from thy name:
  •       But do not so, I love thee in such sort,
  •       As thou being mine, mine is thy good report.
  • XCVII
  • How like a winter hath my absence been
  • From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
  • What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
  • What old December’s bareness everywhere!
  • And yet this time removed was summer’s time;
  • The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
  • Bearing the wanton burden of the prime,
  • Like widow’d wombs after their lords’ decease:
  • Yet this abundant issue seem’d to me
  • But hope of orphans, and unfather’d fruit;
  • For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
  • And, thou away, the very birds are mute:
  •       Or, if they sing, ‘tis with so dull a cheer,
  •       That leaves look pale, dreading the winter’s near.

William Shakespeare (1564–1616), who needs no introduction on a poetry page, was considered the greatest English poet — and perhaps one of the greatest poets of any language — to put pen to paper. The general reading public usually demonstrates an increased interest in his work, especially his sonnets on love, around Valentine’s Day.

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  • XXV
  • Let those who are in favour with their stars
  • Of public honour and proud titles boast,
  • Whilst I, whom fortune of such triumph bars,
  • Unlook’d for joy in that I honour most.
  • Great princes’ favourites their fair leaves spread
  • But as the marigold at the sun’s eye,
  • And in themselves their pride lies buried,
  • For at a frown they in their glory die.
  • The painful warrior famoused for fight,
  • After a thousand victories once foil’d,
  • Is from the book of honour razed quite,
  • And all the rest forgot for which he toil’d:
  •       Then happy I, that love and am belov’d
  •       Where I may not remove nor be remov’d.
  • XXXVI
  • Let me confess that we two must be twain,
  • Although our undivided loves are one:
  • So shall those blots that do with me remain,
  • Without thy help, by me be borne alone.
  • In our two loves there is but one respect,
  • Though in our lives a separable spite,
  • Which though it alter not love’s sole effect,
  • Yet doth it steal sweet hours from love’s delight.
  • I may not evermore acknowledge thee,
  • Lest my bewailed guilt should do thee shame,
  • Nor thou with public kindness honour me,
  • Unless thou take that honour from thy name:
  •       But do not so, I love thee in such sort,
  •       As thou being mine, mine is thy good report.
  • XCVII
  • How like a winter hath my absence been
  • From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
  • What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
  • What old December’s bareness everywhere!
  • And yet this time removed was summer’s time;
  • The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
  • Bearing the wanton burden of the prime,
  • Like widow’d wombs after their lords’ decease:
  • Yet this abundant issue seem’d to me
  • But hope of orphans, and unfather’d fruit;
  • For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
  • And, thou away, the very birds are mute:
  •       Or, if they sing, ‘tis with so dull a cheer,
  •       That leaves look pale, dreading the winter’s near.

William Shakespeare (1564–1616), who needs no introduction on a poetry page, was considered the greatest English poet — and perhaps one of the greatest poets of any language — to put pen to paper. The general reading public usually demonstrates an increased interest in his work, especially his sonnets on love, around Valentine’s Day.

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