William Shakespeare, Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Music (1612-13)

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)  


This is a part of a collection of works by William Shakespeare.


The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, ed. with a glossary by W.J. Craig M.A. (London: Oxford University Press, 1916).

See the complete volume in HTML and facs. PDF.





It was a lording’s daughter, the fairest one of three,

That liked of her master as well as well might be,

Till looking on an Englishman, the fair’st that eye could see,

Her fancy fell a-turning.  4

Long was the combat doubtful that love with love did fight,

To leave the master loveless, or kill the gallant knight:

To put in practice either, alas! it was a spite

Unto the silly damsel.  8

But one must be refused; more mickle was the pain

That nothing could be used to turn them both to gain,

For of the two the trusty knight was wounded with disdain:

Alas! she could not help it.  12

Thus art with arms contending was victor of the day,

Which by a gift of learning did bear the maid away;

Then lullaby, the learned man hath got the lady gay;

For now my song is ended.  16


On a day, alack the day!

Love, whose month was ever May,

Spied a blossom passing fair,

Playing in the wanton air:  4

Through the velvet leaves the wind,

All unseen, ’gan passage find;

That the lover, sick to death,

Wish’d himself the heaven’s breath.  8

‘Air,’ quoth he, ‘thy cheeks may blow;

Air, would I might triumph so!

But, alas! my hand hath sworn

Ne’er to pluck thee from thy thorn:  12

Vow, alack! for youth unmeet:

Youth, so apt to pluck a sweet.

Thou for whom Jove would swear

Juno but an Ethiop were;  16

And deny himself for Jove,

Turning mortal for thy love.’


My flocks feed not,

My ewes breed not,

My rams speed not,

All is amiss:  4

Love’s denying,

Faith’s defying,

Heart’s renying,

Causer of this.  8

All my merry jigs are quite forgot,

All my lady’s love is lost, God wot:

Where her faith was firmly fix’d in love,

There a nay is plac’d without remove.  12

One silly cross

Wrought all my loss;

O! frowning Fortune, cursed, fickle dame;

For now I see  16


More in women than in men remain.

In black mourn I,

All fears scorn I,  20

Love hath forlorn me,

Living in thrall:

Heart is bleeding,

All help-needing,  24

O! cruel speeding,

Fraughted with gall.

My shepherd’s pipe can sound no deal,

My wether’s bell rings doleful knell;  28

My curtal dog, that wont to have play’d,

Plays not at all, but seems afraid;

My sighs so deep

Procure to weep,  32

In howling wise, to see my doleful plight.

How sighs resound

Through heartless ground,

Like a thousand vanquish’d men in bloody fight!  36

Clear well spring not,

Sweet birds sing not,

Green plants bring not

Forth their dye;  40

Herds stand weeping,

Flocks all sleeping,

Nymphs back peeping

Fearfully:  44

All our pleasure known to us poor swains,

All our merry meetings on the plains,

All our evening sport from us is fled,

All our love is lost, for Love is dead.  48

Farewell, sweet lass,

Thy like ne’er was

For a sweet content, the cause of all my moan:

Poor Corydon  52

Must live alone;

Other help for him I see that there is none.


Whenas thine eye hath chose the dame,

And stall’d the deer that thou should’st strike,

Let reason rule things worthy blame,

As well as fancy, partial wight:  4

Take counsel of some wiser head,

Neither too young nor yet unwed.

And when thou com’st thy tale to tell,

Smooth not thy tongue with filed talk,  8

Lest she some subtle practice smell;

A cripple soon can find a halt:

But plainly say thou lov’st her well,

And set thy person forth to sell.  12

What though her frowning brows be bent,

Her cloudy looks will clear ere night;

And then too late she will repent

That thus dissembled her delight;  16

And twice desire, ere it be day,

That which with scorn she put away.

What though she strive to try her strength,

And ban and brawl, and say thee nay,  20

Her feeble force will yield at length,

When craft hath taught her thus to say,

‘Had women been so strong as men,

In faith, you had not had it then.’  24

And to her will frame all thy ways;

Spare not to spend, and chiefly there

Where thy desert may merit praise,

By ringing in thy lady’s ear:  28

The strongest castle, tower, and town,

The golden bullet beats it down.

Serve always with assured trust,

And in thy suit be humble true;  32

Unless thy lady prove unjust,

Seek never thou to choose anew.

When time shall serve, be thou not slack

To proffer, though she put thee back.  36

The wiles and guiles that women work,

Dissembled with an outward show,

The tricks and toys that in them lurk,

The cock that treads them shall not know.  40

Have you not heard it said full oft,

A woman’s nay doth stand for nought?

Think, women love to match with men

And not to live so like a saint:  44

Here is no heaven; they holy then

Begin when age doth them attaint.

Were kisses all the joys in bed,

One woman would another wed.  48

But, soft! enough! too much, I fear;

For if my mistress hear my song,

She will not stick to ring my ear,

To teach my tongue to be so long:  52

Yet will she blush, here be it said,

To hear her secrets so bewray’d.


Live with me, and be my love,

And we will all the pleasures prove

That hills and valleys, dales and fields,

And all the craggy mountains yields.  4

There will we sit upon the rocks,

And see the shepherds feed their flocks,

By shallow rivers, by whose falls

Melodious birds sing madrigals.  8

There will I make thee a bed of roses,

With a thousand fragrant posies,

A cap of flowers, and a kirtle

Embroider’d all with leaves of myrtle.  12

A belt of straw and ivy buds,

With coral clasps and amber studs;

And if these pleasures may thee move,

Then live with me and be my love.  16

love’s answer.

If that the world and love were young,

And truth in every shepherd’s tongue,

These pretty pleasures might me move,

To live with thee and be thy love.  20


As it fell upon a day

In the merry month of May,

Sitting in a pleasant shade

Which a grove of myrtles made,  4

Beasts did leap, and birds did sing,

Trees did grow, and plants did spring;

Every thing did banish moan,

Save the nightingale alone:  8

She, poor bird, as all forlorn,

Lean’d her breast up-till a thorn,

And there sung the dolefull’st ditty,

That to hear it was great pity:  12

‘Fie, fie, fie!’ now would she cry;

‘Tereu, Tereu!’ by and by;

That to hear her so complain,

Scarce I could from tears refrain;  16

For her griefs, so lively shown,

Made me think upon mine own.

Ah! thought I, thou mourn’st in vain,

None takes pity on thy pain:  20

Senseless trees they cannot hear thee,

Ruthless beasts they will not cheer thee:

King Pandion he is dead,

All thy friends are lapp’d in lead,  24

All thy fellow birds do sing

Careless of thy sorrowing.

Even so, poor bird, like thee,

None alive will pity me.  28

Whilst as fickle Fortune smil’d,

Thou and I were both beguil’d.

Every one that flatters thee

Is no friend in misery.  32

Words are easy, like the wind;

Faithful friends are hard to find:

Every man will be thy friend

Whilst thou hast wherewith to spend;  36

But if store of crowns be scant,

No man will supply thy want.

If that one be prodigal,

Bountiful they will him call,  40

And with such-like flattering,

‘Pity but he were a king.’

If he be addict to vice,

Quickly him they will entice;  44

If to women he be bent,

They have him at commandement:

But if Fortune once do frown,

Then farewell his great renown;  48

They that fawn’d on him before

Use his company no more.

He that is thy friend indeed,

He will help thee in thy need:  52

If thou sorrow, he will weep;

If thou wake, he cannot sleep:

Thus of every grief in heart

He with thee does bear a part.  56

These are certain signs to know

Faithful friend from flattering foe.