Shakespeare's Sonnets Translation Sonnet 99
The forward violet thus did I chide: Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells, If not from my love’s breath? The purple pride Which on thy soft cheek for complexion dwells In my love’s veins thou hast too grossly dyed. The lily I condemnèd for thy hand, And buds of marjoram had stol'n thy hair; The roses fearfully on thorns did stand, One blushing shame, another white despair; A third, nor red nor white, had stol'n of both, And to his robb'ry had annexed thy breath; But for his theft, in pride of all his growth A vengeful canker ate him up to death. More flow'rs I noted, yet I none could see But sweet or color it had stol'n from thee.
I chastised the early violet in this way:
"Sweet thief, where did you steal your sweet smell,
If not from my lovers's breath? The proud purple color
Which is on the complexion of your soft cheeks
You have dyed excessively in my love's veins."
I condemned the lily for stealing its whiteness from your hand,
And the marjoram buds had stolen their curls from your hair;
The roses stood by anxiously on their thorns,
One blushing red with shame, another white with despair,
A third, neither red nor white, had stolen from both colors,
And even added to his stolen goods the sweetness of your breath;
But for his theft, at the peak of his growth
A vengeful caterpillar ate him to death.
I saw more flowers, but I could see none
That had not stolen their smell or color from you.