Shakespeare's Sonnets Translation Sonnet 51
Thus can my love excuse the slow offense Of my dull bearer, when from thee I speed: From where thou art, why should I haste me thence? Till I return, of posting is no need. O what excuse will my poor beast then find, When swift extremity can seem but slow? Then should I spur, though mounted on the wind; In wingèd speed no motion shall I know: Then can no horse with my desire keep pace; Therefore desire, of perfect’st love being made, Shall neigh no dull flesh in his fiery race, But love, for love, thus shall excuse my jade: Since from thee going he went wilful slow, Towards thee I’ll run, and give him leave to go.
This is the thought with which my love excuses the slowness
Of my slow bearer, when I travel away from you:
"Why should I make haste away from where you are?"
Until my return journey, there is no need for hurrying.
Oh what excuse will my poor horse then have,
When extreme speed can only seem slow?
I would spur him on, even if I were riding the wind itself;
If I travel like the wind, I would not feel any movement:
So no horse can keep pace with my desire;
Therefore desire, being made of the most perfect love,
Shall not neigh any slow flesh in his burning race
But love, for love, I will excuse my slow horse like this:
Since he went intentionally slowly away from you,
I'll run to you, and allow him to walk.
LitCharts A+ members also get exclusive access to:
- Downloadable translations of every Shakespeare play and sonnet
- Downloads of 941 LitCharts Lit Guides
- Explanations and citation info for 21,593 quotes covering 941 books
- Teacher Editions for every Lit Guide
- PDFs defining 136 key Lit Terms