My glass shall not persuade me I am old,
So long as youth and thou are of one date;
But when in thee time’s furrows I behold,
Then look I death my days should expiate.
For all that beauty that doth cover thee,
Is but the seemly raiment of my heart,
Which in thy breast doth live, as thine in me:
How can I then be elder than thou art?
O! therefore love, be of thyself so wary
As I, not for myself, but for thee will;
Bearing thy heart, which I will keep so chary
As tender nurse her babe from faring ill.
Presume not on thy heart when mine is slain,
Thou gav’st me thine not to give back again.
Sonnet 22: Translation to modern English
As long as you appear eternally young my mirror will not persuade me that I am old. But when I begin to see wrinkles on your brow then it will be time to anticipate my death. All that beauty that covers you is only the fine clothing of this heart of mine that lives in your heart, as yours lives in mine. How can I then be older than you? Oh, therefore, love, you should take as good care of yourself as I take care, not of myself, but of you, because your heart is in me and I will take care of it as a loving nurse protects her baby from harm. Don’t presume that your heart will survive when mine is dead; you gave me yours, never to be given back.