William Shakespeare. 1564–1616

Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Music, IV.

“Whenas thine eye hath chose the dame”

WHENAS thine eye hath chose the dame,  
And stall’d the deer that thou should’st strike,  
Let reason rule things worthy blame,  
As well as fancy, partial wight:  
  Take counsel of some wiser head,    5
  Neither too young nor yet unwed.  
And when thou com’st thy tale to tell,  
Smooth not thy tongue with filed talk,  
Lest she some subtle practice smell;  
A cripple soon can find a halt:   10
  But plainly say thou lov’st her well,  
  And set thy person forth to sell.  
What though her frowning brows be bent,  
Her cloudy looks will calm ere night;  
And then too late she will repent   15
That thus dissembled her delight;  
  And twice desire, ere it be day,  
  That which with scorn she put away.  
What though she strive to try her strength,  
And ban and brawl, and say thee nay,   20
Her feeble force will yield at length,  
When craft hath taught her thus to say,  
  ‘Had women been so strong as men,  
  In faith, you had not had it then.’  
And to her will frame all thy ways;   25
Spare not to spend, and chiefly there  
Where thy desert may merit praise,  
By ringing in thy lady’s ear:  
  The strongest castle, tower, and town,  
  The golden bullet beats it down.   30
Serve always with assured trust,  
And in thy suit be humble true;  
Unless thy lady prove unjust,  
Seek never thou to choose anew.  
  When time shall serve, be thou not slack   35
  To proffer, though she put thee back.  
The wiles and guiles that women work,  
Dissembled with an outward show,  
The tricks and toys that in them lurk,  
The cock that treads them shall not know.   40
  Have you not heard it said full oft,  
  A woman’s nay doth stand for nought?  
Think women love to match with men  
And not to live so like a saint:  
Here is no heaven; they holy then   45
Begin when age doth them attaint.  
  Were kisses all the joys in bed,  
  One woman would another wed.  
But, soft! enough! too much, I fear;  
For if my mistress hear my song,   50
She will not stick to ring my ear,  
To teach my tongue to be so long:  
  Yet will she blush, here be it said,  
  To hear her secrets so bewray’d.