Shakespeare's Sonnets Translation Sonnet 54
O how much more doth beauty beauteous seem By that sweet ornament which truth doth give! The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem For that sweet odor which doth in it live. The canker-blooms have full as deep a dye As the perfumèd tincture of the roses, Hang on such thorns, and play as wantonly, When summer’s breath their maskèd buds discloses; But for their virtue only is their show, They live unwooed, and unrespected fade, Die to themselves. Sweet roses do not so; Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odors made; And so of you, beauteous and lovely youth; When that shall vade, my verse distills your truth.
Oh how much more beautiful does beauty seem
When it has the sweet ornament of truth!
The rose looks beautiful, but we think of it as more beautiful
For the sweet aroma that lives in it.
Dog-roses are dyed just as deeply
As the perfumed color of the roses,
They have similar thorns, and show off just as promiscuously,
When summer's warm air unfolds their closed buds.
But their only value is only for their looks,
They are unloved and fade away without having been admired,
Dying on their own. Sweet roses do not do this:
Sweetest perfumes are distilled from their sweet deaths.
And same is true of you, beautiful and lovely youth;
When those qualities fade, my verse will distill your true essence.