Monday, 23 April 2018

Flowers and Shakespeare

For World Book Day - which is also the date of the Bard's birth and death - I'm celebrating with sonnets and flowers...

Sonnet XCIV

They that have the power to hurt and will do none,  
That do not do the thing they most do show,
Who, moving others, are themselves as stone,
Unmoved, cold, and to temptation;
They rightly do inherit heaven’s graces
And husband nature’s riches from expense;
They are the lords and owners of their faces,
Others but stewards of their excellence.
The summer’s flower is to the summer sweet,
Though to itself it only live and die,
But if that flower with the base infection meet,
The basest weed out-braves his dignity;
For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;
Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.

Sonnet LIV

O how much more doth beauty beauteous seem
By that sweet ornament which truth doth give!
The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem
For that sweet odour which doth in it live.
The canker-looms have full as deep a dye
 As the perfumed tincture of the roses,
 Hang on such thorns, and play as wantonly,
 When summer’s breath their masked buds           discloses;
 But for their virtue only is their show,
 They live unwooed, and unrespected fade,
 Die to themselves. Sweet roses do not so;
 Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odours made;
 And so of you, beauteous and lovely youth;
 When that shall vade, my verse distills your truth.

Sonnet XCIX

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 condemned 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 not white, had stol’n both
And to his robbery had annex’d thy breath;
But, for his theft, in pride of all his growth
A vengeful canker eat him up to death.
More flowers I noted, yet I none could see
But sweet or colour it had stol’n from thee.

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