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William Shakespeare, Sonnet xvi

But wherefore do not you a mightier way
Make war upon this bloody tyrant, Time?
And fortify yourself in your decay
With means more blessed than my barren rhyme?
Now stand you on the top of happy hours;
And many maiden gardens, yet unset,
With virtuous wish would bear you living flowers, [*]
Much liker than your painted counterfeit: [*]
So should the lines of life that life repair,
Which this, Time's pencil, or my pupil pen,
Neither in inward worth, nor outward fair, [*]
Can make you live yourself in eyes of men.
To give away yourself keeps yourself still;
And you must live, drawn by your own sweet skill.


line 7: You: the original has your. Malone conceiving that your in the original is an error of the press. [ Back to text ]

line 8: Counterfeit: portrait. [ Back to text ]

line 11: Fair: beauty. The word is used in the same sense in the 18th Sonnet. [ Back to text ]

Most notes to Shakespeare's sonnets are from Charles Knight's edition, but those in square brackets are mine.