Shakespeare's Sonnets Translation Sonnet 59
If there be nothing new, but that which is Hath been before, how are our brains beguiled, Which, lab'ring for invention, bear amiss The second burthen of a former child! O that recórd could with a backward look, Ev'n of five hundred courses of the sun, Show me your image in some ántique book, Since mind at first in character was done, That I might see what the old world could say To this composèd wonder of your frame; Whether we are mended, or where better they, Or whether revolution be the same. O sure I am the wits of former days To subjects worse have giv'n admiring praise.
If there is nothing truly new, and everything that exists
Has existed before, how are our brains so misguided
That, striving to invent something new, and fail
Giving birth to something that has already been born!
Oh that the memory could looking back
Even five hundred orbits of the sun,
Show me your image in some ancient book,
Since the time when thought was first written down,
So that I could see what the old world could speak
Of the wonderful composition of your body.
And know if we have improved, or if they were better,
Or whether the cycle of time means we are the same.
Oh, I am sure that the writers of the old days
Gave to inferior subjects their admiring praise.