A woman’s face with nature’s own hand painted,
Hast thou, the master mistress of my passion;
A woman’s gentle heart, but not acquainted
With shifting change, as is false women’s fashion:
An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;
A man in hue all hues in his controlling,
Which steals men’s eyes and women’s souls amazeth.
And for a woman wert thou first created;
Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting,
And by addition me of thee defeated,
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
But since she prick’d thee out for women’s pleasure,
Mine be thy love and thy love’s use their treasure.
Sonnet 20: Translation to modern English
Your face is more beautiful than a woman’s because it’s been painted by nature and not artificially. You are both master and mistress of my passion. You have the gentle heart of a woman but without the fickleness characteristic of women. Your eyes, that light up the very object that they look on, are brighter than theirs but without their shallow flirtatiousness. You have all the best qualities a man could have. All other men look to you as a model: you catch the eye of men and you amaze women. Nature first intended you as a woman, but as she was making you, she fell madly in love with you and, by adding something, deprived me of you; by adding one thing she made you unattainable to me. But since she equipped you for the pleasure of women, let me have your love and them your body.