Who will believe my verse in time to come,
If it were fill'd with your most high deserts?
Though yet Heaven knows it is but as a tomb
Which hides your life and shows not half your parts.
If I could write the beauty of your eyes,
And in fresh numbers number all your graces,
The age to come would say, 'This poet lies,
Such heavenly touches ne'er touch'd earthly faces.'
So should my papers yellow'd with their age,
Be scorn'd like old men of less truth than tongue,
And your true rights be term'd a poet's rage
And stretched metre of an antique song:
But were some child of yours alive that time,
You should live twice,-- in it and in my rhyme.
XVII. The poet's record is, moreover, open to two objections; it
is very imperfect, and, besides, posterity would not believe a full
and accurate description of Mr. W. H.'s beauty, even if such a description were made. But the living record is open to no such objections; and, besides, it would confer an immortality additional to that
given by the poet's verses.
2. Fill'd.-Q. has "fild."
6. In fresh numbers. Meaning probably "in successive new poems," rather than "in new metres."
11. A poet's rage. The product of poetical enthusiasm.
12. Stretched metre. Mere inflated words. Q. has the spelling "miter."
How to cite this article:
Shakespeare, William. Sonnets. Ed. Thomas Tyler. London: D. Nutt, 1890. Shakespeare Online. 12 Nov. 2013. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/17.html >.
Did You Know? ... "The poet was throughout his life greatly indebted to the patronage and support of royal and noble personages; his royal patrons were Queen Elizabeth and King James I, both of whom greatly loved the drama. The virgin queen devoted herself to the study of the ancient classical period; she also delighted in our own theatrical entertainments, and used her influence in the progress of the English drama, and fostered the inimitable genius of Shakespeare." Henry Brown. Read on....