Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion’s paws,
And make the earth devour her own sweet brood;
Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger’s jaws,
And burn the long-liv’d phoenix, in her blood;
Make glad and sorry seasons as thou fleet’st,
And do whate’er thou wilt, swift-footed Time,
To the wide world and all her fading sweets;
But I forbid thee one most heinous crime:
O! carve not with thy hours my love’s fair brow,
Nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen;
Him in thy course untainted do allow
For beauty’s pattern to succeeding men.
Yet, do thy worst old Time: despite thy wrong,
My love shall in my verse ever live young.
Sonnet 19: Translation to modern English
Devouring Time, you may make the lion’s claws blunt and return all creatures to the earth from which they sprang; pull the teeth from the fierce tiger’s jaws, and destroy the phoenix in her fire. Do whatever you like, fast-running Time, to any beautiful fading thing in the world; but I forbid you to commit one heinous crime: oh don’t cut into my love’s beautiful brow, nor draw wrinkles there with your insane pen. As you go on your destructive course spare him as a pattern of beauty for posterity. But, do your worst, old Time. Whatever harm you do my love will remain young forever in my poetry.
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