Shakespeare's Sonnets Translation Sonnet 32
If thou survive my well-contented day, When that churl death my bones with dust shall cover, And shalt by fortune once more re-survey These poor rude lines of thy deceasèd lover, Compare them with the bett'ring of the time, And though they be outstripped by every pen, Reserve them for my love, not for their rhyme, Exceeded by the height of happier men. O then vouchsafe me but this loving thought: “Had my friend’s muse grown with this growing age, A dearer birth than this his love had brought To march in ranks of better equipage. But since he died and poets better prove, Theirs for their style I’ll read, his for his love.”
If you survive the day that I pay my final debt,
When death, that villain, covers my bones with dust,
And if, by chance, you look once again
At these unskilled and crude lines written by your dead lover,
Remember that everything improves with time,
And though my poems are surpassed by every other poet,
Keep my poems for their message of love, not for their technical skill,
Which is outranked by the high achievement of more fortunate men.
Oh then grant me just this loving thought:
"If my friend's muse had improved with the times,
His love would have been able to purchase a better creation
Worthy of joining the rank of better poets.
But since he died and there are better poets around now,
I will read their poems for their style, and his for his love."