A line-by-line translation

Shakespeare's Sonnets

A line-by-line translation

Shakespeare's Sonnets

Shakespeare's Sonnets Translation Sonnet 53

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What is your substance, whereof are you made, That millions of strange shadows on you tend? Since everyone hath every one, one shade, And you, but one, can every shadow lend. Describe Adonis, and the counterfeit Is poorly imitated after you. On Helen’s cheek all art of beauty set, And you in Grecian tires are painted new. Speak of the spring and foison of the year; The one doth shadow of your beauty show, The other as your bounty doth appear, And you in every blessèd shape we know. In all external grace you have some part, But you like none, none you, for constant heart.

What is the substance of which are you made,
Such that millions of strange shadows follow you?
Since everyone each has, to themselves, one shadow,
And you, although you are only one, can lend everyone a shadow.
Describe Adonis, and the description
Is a poor imitation of you.
Apply the entire art of make-up to Helen of Troy's face
And you will find a representation of yourself in Greek dress!
Talk of the springtime or harvest of the year
And spring is no more than a shadow of your beauty,
And the harvest appears equivalent to your goodness,
We recognize you in every blessed shape.
You have some part in every external thing that is beautiful,
But you are like none, and none like you, because of how faithful you are.

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Suzy kim
About the Translator: Suzy Kim

Suzy Kim is a graduate student studying Victorian literature at Brown University. She studied English and Psychology at University of Pennsylvania, and some of her creative work can be found in the upcoming volume of The Graphic Canon: Tales of Crime and Mystery Vol. 1. She is from Seoul, and currently lives in Providence, Rhode Island.