Mine eye hath play’d the painter and hath steel’d,
Thy beauty’s form in table of my heart;
My body is the frame wherein ’tis held,
And perspective it is best painter’s art.
For through the painter must you see his skill,
To find where your true image pictur’d lies,
Which in my bosom’s shop is hanging still,
That hath his windows glazed with thine eyes.
Now see what good turns eyes for eyes have done:
Mine eyes have drawn thy shape, and thine for me
Are windows to my breast, where-through the sun
Delights to peep, to gaze therein on thee;
Yet eyes this cunning want to grace their art,
They draw but what they see, know not the heart.
Sonnet 24: Translation to modern English
My eye has taken the role of the artist and engraved an image of your beauty on my heart. My body is the frame that surrounds it, setting its proportions in that space. It is through the painter that one may see how art depicts nature, and where the best image of anything is, and yours hangs in the studio of my heart, which has your eyes as its windows, forever. Now see what a good turn your eyes and mine have done each other. My eyes have drawn your form and yours are the windows of my heart, through which the sun loves to peep, to look at you in there. But eyes lack the artistry to show what lies within the heart; they draw only what they see and cannot know what’s in the heart.
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