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William Shakespeare, Sonnet lxv

Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,
But sad mortality o'ersways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?
O, how shall summer's honey breath hold out
Against the wreckful siege of battering days,
When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
Nor gates of steel so strong, but time decays?
O fearful meditation! where, alack!
Shall Time's best jewel from Time's chest lie hid? [*]
Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?
Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid?
O none, unless this miracle have might,
That in black ink my love may still shine bright.


line 10: In Troilus and Cressida, Ulysses says --

Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back,
In which he puts alms for oblivion.
Time's chest and Time's wallet are the same; they are the depositories of what was once great and beautiful, passed away, perished, and forgotten. [ Back to text ]

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