Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
 
Since Brass, nor Stone
By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
 
SINCE 1 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 2 is no stronger than a flower?
O, how shall summer’s honey breath hold out        5
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 3 lie hid?        10
Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?
Or who his spoil of beauty 4 can forbid?
  O none, unless this miracle have might,
  That in black ink my love may still shine bright.
 
Note 1. Sonnet lxv. Shake-speare’s Sonnettes, 1609. [back]
Note 2. Action: apparently used in the legal sense suggested by hold a plea in line 3. [back]
Note 3. Time’s chest: Theobald proposed Time’s guest, but Malone defends this reading by showing that the image of a jewel in a chest was a favorite one with Shakespeare. [back]
Note 4. Of beauty: the or of the Quarto is a manifest error. [back]
 
 
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