Verse > Anthologies > Hunt and Lee, eds. > The Book of the Sonnet
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Hunt and Lee, comps.  The Book of the Sonnet.  1867.
 
VII. Affection Most Loving When It Most Fears to Lose
By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
 
THAT time of year thou mayst in me behold,
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day        5
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,        10
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
  This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
  To love that well which thou must leave erelong. 1
 
Note 1. We quote this sonnet partly for the fine amplification it contains of a well-known phrase in Macbeth, and chiefly for the surpassing beauty of the images illustrative of a poet’s silent old age. We challenge the poetry of England and America against the fourth line,—
  “Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.”
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