The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds,
That did not better for my life provide,
Than public means which public manners breeds.
Thence comes it that my name receives a brand,
And almost thence my nature is subdu’d
To what it works in, like the dyer’s hand:
Pity me then and wish I were renew’d;
Whilst, like a willing patient, I will drink
Potions of eysell, ‘gainst my strong infection;
No bitterness that I will bitter think,
Nor double penance, to correct correction.
Pity me then, dear friend, and I assure ye
Even that your pity is enough to cure me.
Sonnet 111: Translation to modern English
Oh, you’re cursing fortune – the cause of my bad behaviour – that didn’t provide better for my life than to make me perform in front of the public which was bound to influence my behaviour. That’s how I have come to have a bad name and it follows that my nature is affected by working with the public in the way a dyer’s hand is stained by working with dye. So with me, and I hope that I will be regenerated. In the meantime, like a willing patient, I will take better medicines for this strong infection. No matter how bitter it is I won’t think of it as bitter, nor will I complain about having to do double penance to correct this bad influence. Pity me, then, dear friend: I assure you that your pity is enough to cure me.