Shakespeare's Sonnets Translation Sonnet 80
O how I faint when I of you do write, Knowing a better spirit doth use your name, And in the praise thereof spends all his might, To make me tongue-tied speaking of your fame. But since your worth, wide as the ocean is, The humble as the proudest sail doth bear, My saucy bark, inferior far to his, On your broad main doth willfully appear. Your shallowest help will hold me up afloat, Whilst he upon your soundless deep doth ride; Or, being wracked, I am a worthless boat, He of tall building and of goodly pride. Then, if he thrive and I be cast away, The worst was this: my love was my decay.
Oh how weak I feel when I write about you,
Knowing that a better spirit uses your name,
And spends all his power praising it,
So as to make me speechless in speaking of your fame.
But since your value is as wide as the ocean,
It holds the most humble and the riches boats,
My presumptuous little boat, far inferior to his,
Still stubbornly appears on your broad expanse.
Your slightest assistance will help me to stay afloat,
While he can ride out even out to the deepest parts;
Or, since I am already wrecked, I am a worthless boat,
While he is built to be tall and magnificent.
Then, if he thrives and I am cast away,
This is the the worst part: my love caused my decay.
LitCharts A+ members also get exclusive access to:
- Downloadable translations of every Shakespeare play and sonnet
- Downloads of 911 LitCharts Lit Guides
- Explanations and citation info for 21,030 quotes covering 911 books
- Teacher Editions for every Lit Guide
- PDFs defining 136 key Lit Terms