Shakespeare's Sonnets Translation Sonnet 81
Or I shall live, your epitaph to make, Or you survive, when I in earth am rotten, From hence your memory death cannot take, Although in me each part will be forgotten. Your name from hence immortal life shall have, Though I, once gone, to all the world must die. The earth can yield me but a common grave, When you entombèd in men’s eyes shall lie. Your monument shall be my gentle verse, Which eyes not yet created shall o'er-read, And tongues to be your being shall rehearse When all the breathers of this world are dead. You still shall live—such virtue hath my pen— Where breath most breathes, ev'n in the mouths of men.
Either I outlive you and write your epitaph,
Or you will survive when I am rotting in the earth,
From now on death cannot take your memory,
Although all of your parts in me will be forgotten.
From now on your name will have an immortal life,
Though I, once I am gone, will be dead to the world.
The earth can only give me an ordinary grave,
When you will be preserved in the eyes of men.
Your monument will be my lovely verse,
Which the eyes of future generations will read over,
And their tongues to repeatedly speak of you
When all the living creatures of this world are dead.
You will live on—my pen has that power—
Wherever there is poetry, especially in the mouths of men.
LitCharts A+ members also get exclusive access to:
- Downloadable translations of every Shakespeare play and sonnet
- Downloads of 876 LitCharts Lit Guides
- Explanations and citation info for 20,299 quotes covering 876 books
- Teacher Editions for every Lit Guide
- PDFs defining 136 key Lit Terms