Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.



4.0 5
by William Shakespeare

See All Formats & Editions

William Shakespeare is thought to have written his sonnets for a private audience over several years before they were first published in 1609. The verses that compose the sonnets are often subversive, elusive and intimate, shaping an erotic body of poetry in the pursuit of the depths of emotion. Shakespeare's Sonnets express both the narrator's pure love for a 'fair


William Shakespeare is thought to have written his sonnets for a private audience over several years before they were first published in 1609. The verses that compose the sonnets are often subversive, elusive and intimate, shaping an erotic body of poetry in the pursuit of the depths of emotion. Shakespeare's Sonnets express both the narrator's pure love for a 'fair youth , and his uncontrollable desire for a dark lady. There has been much debate concerning the identity of the individuals to whom the sonnets are addressed, and the mysterious dedication "To the onlie begetter of these insuing sonnets Mr W Hall happinesse and that eternitie promised by our ever-living poet wisheth the well-wishing adventurer in setting forth", which appears in the 1609 edition, offers no clear evidence. Shakespeare's sonnets are among the finest ever written in English.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Octavo continues to provide digital access to rare and important literary works. Only 13 originals survive of Shakespeare's Sonnets, Never Before Imprinted, first published in London in 1609. This disc provides page-by-page views from the quarto held in the Grenville collection of The British Library. The 154 sonnets, plus an 11-page poem, "A Lover's Complaint," appear in the typeface of the day. The images are accompanied by a text commentary by Arthur Freeman, with notes on the binding and collation, provenance, and viewing tips. One continuous PDF holds it all, and Adobe Acrobat tabs must be used to maneuver through the document. While this arrangement makes individual word search and copy-and-paste possible, navigation is not without its challenges. A specific sonnet cannot be located quickly unless one enters its number into a simple search. And because the volume was rebound and thickened with extra sheets during Thomas Grenville's ownership, 42 of the 116 views are of blank pages. Academics and archivists may delight in such primary-source integrity; unwary researchers will be frustrated when they find themselves lost in the midst of the void. Sonnets can be purchased at a discount when bundled with Octavo's similar CD-ROMs of Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories and Tragedies and Poems. Bottom Line Recommended for scholars, archivists, collectors, and academic and special libraries that serve those patrons. For casual readers, existing publications, such as Helen Vendler's The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets (1997), which includes facsimiles of the 1609 prints of each sonnet along with analysis, should suffice.-Corinne H. Smith, Ware, MA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"The great master who knew everything...an unspeakable source of delight" - Charles Dickens -
"Dante and Shakespeare divide the modern world between them, there is no third"

Product Details

Steerforth Press
Publication date:
Pushkin Collection
Sold by:
Penguin Random House Publisher Services
File size:
696 KB

Read an Excerpt


By William Shakespeare

Steerforth Press

Copyright © 2008 Pushkin Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-901285-99-4



    From fairest creatures we desire increase,
    That thereby beauty's rose might never die,
    But as the riper should by time decease,
    His tender heir might bear his memory:
    But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,
    Feed'st thy light's flame with self-substantial fuel,
    Making a famine where abundance lies,
    Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.
    Thou that art now the world's fresh ornament
    And only herald to the gaudy spring,
    Within thine own bud buriest thy content
    And, tender churl, mak'st waste in niggarding.
      Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
      To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee.


    When forty winters shall besiege thy brow
    And dig deep trenches in thy beauty's field,
    Thy youth's proud livery, so gazed on now,
    Will be a tattered weed, of small worth held:
    Then being asked where all thy beauty lies,
    Where all the treasure of thy lusty days,
    To say, within thine own deep-sunken eyes,
    Were an all-eating shame and thriftless praise.
    How much more praise deserved thy beauty's use,
    If thou couldst answer 'This fair child of mine
    Shall sum my count, and make my old excuse',
    Proving his beauty by succession thine!
      This were to be new made when thou art old,
      And see thy blood warm when thou feel'st it cold.


    Look in thy glass, and tell the face thou viewest
    Now is the time that face should form another;
    Whose fresh repair if now thou not renewest,
    Thou dost beguile the world, unbless some mother.
    For where is she so fair whose unear'd womb
    Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry?
    Or who is he so fond will be the tomb
    Of his self-love to stop posterity?
    Thou art thy mother's glass, and she in thee
    Calls back the lovely April of her prime:
    So thou through windows of thine age shalt see,
    Despite of wrinkles, this thy golden time.
      But if thou live, remembered not to be,
      Die single, and thine image dies with thee.


    Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend
    Upon thy self thy beauty's legacy?
    Nature's bequest gives nothing, but doth lend,
    And being frank, she lends to those are free.
    Then, beauteous niggard, why dost thou abuse
    The bounteous largess given thee to give?
    Profitless usurer, why dost thou use
    So great a sum of sums, yet canst not live?
    For having traffic with thy self alone,
    Thou of thy self thy sweet self dost deceive;
    Then how, when nature calls thee to be gone,
    What acceptable audit canst thou leave?
      Thy unused beauty must be tombed with thee,
      Which, used, lives th' executor to be.


    Those hours that with gentle work did frame
    The lovely gaze where every eye doth dwell
    Will play the tyrants to the very same
    And that unfair which fairly doth excel:
    For never-resting time leads summer on
    To hideous winter and confounds him there,
    Sap checked with frost and lusty leaves quite gone
    Beauty o'ersnowed and bareness everywhere:
    Then, were not summer's distillation left,
    A liquid prisoner pent in walls of glass,
    Beauty's effect with beauty were bereft,
    Nor it, nor no remembrance what it was:
      But flowers distilled, though they with winter meet,
      Leese but their show; their substance still lives sweet.


    Then let not winter's ragged hand deface
    In thee thy summer, ere thou be distilled:
    Make sweet some vial; treasure thou some place
    With beauty's treasure, ere it be self-killed.
    That use is not forbidden usury,
    Which happies those that pay the willing loan;
    That's for thyself to breed another thee,
    Or ten times happier, be it ten for one;
    Ten times thyself were happier than thou art,
    If ten of thine ten times refigured thee:
    Then what could death do, if thou shouldst depart,
    Leaving thee living in posterity?
      Be not self-willed, for thou art much too fair
      To be death's conquest and make worms thine heir.


    Lo, in the orient when the gracious light
    Lifts up his burning head, each under eye
    Doth homage to his new-appearing sight,
    Serving with looks his sacred majesty;
    And having climb'd the steep-up heavenly hill,
    Resembling strong youth in his middle age,
    Yet mortal looks adore his beauty still,
    Attending on his golden pilgrimage;
    But when from highmost pitch, with weary car,
    Like feeble age, he reeleth from the day,
    The eyes, 'fore duteous, now converted are
    From his low tract, and look another way:
      So thou, thyself out-going in thy noon,
      Unlooked on diest, unless thou get a son.


    Music to hear, why hear'st thou music sadly?
    Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy.
    Why lovest thou that which thou receiv'st not gladly,
    Or else receiv'st with pleasure thine annoy?
    If the true concord of well-tuned sounds,
    By unions married, do offend thine ear,
    They do but sweetly chide thee, who confounds
    In singleness the parts that thou shouldst bear:
    Mark how one string, sweet husband to another,
    Strikes each in each by mutual ordering;
    Resembling sire, and child, and happy mother,
    Who, all in one, one pleasing note do sing:
      Whose speechless song, being many, seeming one,
      Sings this to thee: 'Thou single wilt prove none'.


    Is it for fear to wet a widow's eye
    That thou consum'st thy self in single life?
    Ah! if thou issueless shalt hap to die,
    The world will wail thee, like a makeless wife;
    The world will be thy widow, and still weep
    That thou no form of thee hast left behind,
    When every private widow well may keep
    By children's eyes her husband's shape in mind.
    Look, what an unthrift in the world doth spend
    Shifts but his place, for still the world enjoys it;
    But beauty's waste hath in the world an end,
    And kept unused, the user so destroys it.
      No love toward others in that bosom sits
      That on himself such murd'rous shame commits.


    For shame! deny that thou bear'st love to any,
    Who for thyself art so unprovident.
    Grant, if thou wilt, thou art beloved of many,
    But that thou none lovest is most evident;
    For thou art so possess'd with murderous hate
    That 'gainst thyself thou stick'st not to conspire,
    Seeking that beauteous roof to ruinate
    Which to repair should be thy chief desire.
    O, change thy thought, that I may change my mind!
    Shall hate be fairer lodged than gentle love?
    Be, as thy presence is, gracious and kind,
    Or to thyself at least kind-hearted prove:
      Make thee another self, for love of me,
      That beauty still may live in thine or thee.


    As fast as thou shalt wane, so fast thou grow'st
    In one of thine, from that which thou departest;
    And that fresh blood which youngly thou bestow'st
    Thou mayst call thine, when thou from youth convertest.
    Herein lives wisdom, beauty and increase;
    Without this, folly, age and cold decay:
    If all were minded so, the times should cease
    And threescore year would make the world away.
    Let those whom Nature hath not made for store,
    Harsh, featureless and rude, barrenly perish:
    Look, whom she best endow'd she gave the more;
    Which bounteous gift thou shouldst in bounty cherish:
      She carved thee for her seal, and meant thereby
      Thou shouldst print more, not let that copy die.


    When I do count the clock that tells the time,
    And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;
    When I behold the violet past prime,
    And sable curls all silver'd o'er with white;
    When lofty trees I see barren of leaves,
    Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
    And summer's green all girded up in sheaves,
    Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard,
    Then of thy beauty do I question make,
    That thou among the wastes of time must go,
    Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake
    And die as fast as they see others grow;
      And nothing 'gainst Time's scythe can make defence
      Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.


    O, that you were yourself! but, love, you are
    No longer yours than you yourself here live:
    Against this coming end you should prepare,
    And your sweet semblance to some other give.
    So should that beauty which you hold in lease
    Find no determination; then you were
    Yourself again, after yourself's decease,
    When your sweet issue your sweet form should bear.
    Who lets so fair a house fall to decay,
    Which husbandry in honour might uphold
    Against the stormy gusts of winter's day
    And barren rage of death's eternal cold?
      O, none but unthrifts: dear my love, you know
      You had a father; let your son say so.


    Not from the stars do I my judgement pluck;
    And yet methinks I have astronomy,
    But not to tell of good or evil luck,
    Of plagues, of dearths, or seasons' quality;
    Nor can I fortune to brief minutes tell,
    Pointing to each his thunder, rain and wind,
    Or say with princes if it shall go well,
    By oft predict that I in heaven find:
    But from thine eyes my knowledge I derive,
    And, constant stars, in them I read such art,
    As truth and beauty shall together thrive,
    If from thyself, to store thou wouldst convert;
      Or else of thee this I prognosticate:
      Thy end is truth's and beauty's doom and date.


    When I consider every thing that grows
    Holds in perfection but a little moment,
    That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
    Whereon the stars in secret influence comment;
    When I perceive that men as plants increase,
    Cheered and check'd even by the self-same sky,
    Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease,
    And wear their brave state out of memory;
    Then the conceit of this inconstant stay
    Sets you most rich in youth before my sight,
    Where wasteful Time debateth with Decay,
    To change your day of youth to sullied night;
      And all in war with Time for love of you,
      As he takes from you, I engraft you new.


    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 your 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.


    Who will believe my verse in time to come,
    If it were fill'd with your most high deserts?
    Though yet, heaven knows, it is but as a tomb
    Which hides your life and shows not half your parts.
    If I could write the beauty of your eyes
    And in fresh numbers number all your graces,
    The age to come would say, 'This poet lies;
    Such heavenly touches ne'er touched earthly faces.'
    So should my papers, yellowed with their age,
    Be scorn'd, like old men of less truth than tongue,
    And your true rights be termed a poet's rage
    And stretched metre of an antique song:
      But were some child of yours alive that time,
      You should live twice, in it and in my rhyme.


    Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
    Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
    Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
    And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
    Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
    And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
    And every fair from fair sometime declines,
    By chance or nature's changing course untrimmed;
    But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
    Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
    Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
    When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:
      So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
      So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.


    Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion's paws,
    And make the earth devour her own sweet brood;
    Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger's jaws,
    And burn the long-lived phoenix, in her blood;
    Make glad and sorry seasons as thou fleet'st,
    And do whate'er thou wilt, swift-footed Time,
    To the wide world and all her fading sweets;
    But I forbid thee one most heinous crime:
    O, carve not with thy hours my love's fair brow,
    Nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen;
    Him in thy course untainted do allow
    For beauty's pattern to succeeding men.
      Yet do thy worst, old Time: despite thy wrong,
      My love shall in my verse ever live young.


    A woman's face, with Nature's own hand painted,
    Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion;
    A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted
    With shifting change, as is false women's fashion;
    An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
    Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;
    A man in hue, all hues in his controlling,
    Which steals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth.
    And for a woman wert thou first created;
    Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting,
    And by addition me of thee defeated,
    By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
      But since she prick'd thee out for women's pleasure,
      Mine be thy love, and thy love's use their treasure.


    So is it not with me as with that Muse
    Stirr'd by a painted beauty to his verse,
    Who heaven itself for ornament doth use
    And every fair with his fair doth rehearse,
    Making a couplement of proud compare,
    With sun and moon, with earth and sea's rich gems,
    With April's first-born flowers, and all things rare
    That heaven's air in this huge rondure hems.
    O, let me, true in love, but truly write,
    And then believe me, my love is as fair
    As any mother's child, though not so bright
    As those gold candles fix'd in heaven's air:
      Let them say more that like of hearsay well;
      I will not praise that purpose not to sell.


    My glass shall not persuade me I am old,
    So long as youth and thou are of one date;
    But when in thee time's furrows I behold,
    Then look I death my days should expiate.
    For all that beauty that doth cover thee
    Is but the seemly raiment of my heart,
    Which in thy breast doth live, as thine in me:
    How can I then be elder than thou art?
    O, therefore, love, be of thyself so wary,
    As I, not for myself, but for thee will;
    Bearing thy heart, which I will keep so chary
    As tender nurse her babe from faring ill.
      Presume not on thy heart when mine is slain;
      Thou gav'st me thine, not to give back again.


Excerpted from Sonnets by William Shakespeare. Copyright © 2008 Pushkin Press. Excerpted by permission of Steerforth Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

William Shakespeare was born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, the third of John Shakespeare and Mary Arden's eight children. At the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway. By 1592, he had started his career in the theatre, and continued to write plays until 1613. In addition to his thirty-eight plays, he left behind one hundred and fifty-four sonnets and two narrative poems. His works are considered to be among the highest achievements in English literature, and have been translated into every major living language. England's national poet died on the 23rd of April 1616.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Sonnets 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Katelyn-Speare More than 1 year ago
I absolutely adore Shakespeare's work, and was anxious to obtain a collection of the Sonnets. I have not finished the book yet, but so far am terribly pleased, and enjoying analyzing and thinking over the meaning of each unrequited love story, and every tragic poem. I couldn't be happier with my purchase, and look forward to my next trip to Barnes & Noble for more!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i found this book to be a great reference for my college class and have several signet's on shakespeare to use through out the coming semester.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love shakespeare
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago