Three Shakespeare Sonnets

Song Cycle by Edward James Harper (b. 1941)

Word count: 342

1. When forty winters shall besiege thy brow[sung text not yet checked]

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 totter'd 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 deserv'd 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.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. My love is strengthen'd, though more weak in seeming[sung text not yet checked]

My love is strengthen'd, though more weak in seeming;
I love not less, though less the show appear:
That love is merchandized whose rich esteeming
The owner's tongue doth publish every where.
Our love was new and then but in the spring
When I was wont to greet it with my lays,
As Philomel in summer's front doth sing
And stops her pipe in growth of riper days:
Not that the summer is less pleasant now
Than when her mournful hymns did hush the night,
But that wild music burthens every bough
And sweets grown common lose their dear delight.
  Therefore like her I sometime hold my tongue,
  Because I would not dull you with my song.

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (François-Victor Hugo) , no title, appears in Sonnets de Shakespeare, no. 102, first published 1857
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "E' più forte il mio amore, anche se più debole appare", copyright © 2007, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. Music to hear, why hear'st thou music sadly?[sung text not yet checked]

Music to hear, why hear'st thou music sadly?
Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy.
Why lovest thou that which thou receivest not gladly,
Or else receivest with pleasure thine annoy?
If the true concord of well-tunèd 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."

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

Researcher for this text: Jeroen Scholten