Shakespeare's Sonnets Translation Sonnet 17
Who will believe my verse in time to come If it were filled with your most high deserts? Though yet heav'n 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 touched earthly faces.” So should my papers, yellowed with their age, Be scorned, like old men of less truth than tongue, And your true rights be termed a poet’s rage And stretchèd meter of an ántique song; But were some child of yours alive that time, You should live twice: in it and in my rhyme.
Who will believe my poetry in the future,
If it were filled with the highest praise that you deserve?
Although heaven knows my poetry is no better than a tomb
Which hides your vitality and shows less than half of your qualities.
If I could express in writing the beauty of your eyes
And in fresh verse count up all your virtues,
People in the future would say, "This poet is lying—
Such heavenly qualities never existed in a human face."
And then my poems, when they are yellow with age,
Would be scorned, like old men who are more talkative than honest,
And the praise that you deserve would be dismissed as a poet's excessive enthusiasm
And the over-stretched meter of an old song;
But if a child of yours were alive at that time,
You would be living twice: in it and in my rhyme.
LitCharts A+ members also get exclusive access to:
- Downloadable translations of every Shakespeare play and sonnet
- Downloads of 1065 LitCharts Lit Guides
- Explanations and citation info for 23,883 quotes covering 1065 books
- Teacher Editions for every Lit Guide
- PDFs defining 136 key Lit Terms