Let me confess that we two must be twain,
Although our undivided loves are one:
So shall those blots that do with me remain,
Without thy help, by me be borne alone.
In our two loves there is but one respect,
Though in our lives a separable spite,
Which though it alter not love’s sole effect,
Yet doth it steal sweet hours from love’s delight.
I may not evermore acknowledge thee,
Lest my bewailed guilt should do thee shame,
Nor thou with public kindness honour me,
Unless thou take that honour from thy name:
But do not so, I love thee in such sort,
As thou being mine, mine is thy good report.
Sonnet 36: Translation to modern English
Let me admit that we two have to part even though we are united in love. By parting those disgraces that we’ve brought on ourselves can be born by me alone, without any help from you. In our love for each other there is a single mind, even though circumstances, which force us apart, can’t destroy our love, but rob us of those sweet hours of mutual pleasure. I can’t ever openly acknowledge you again because my wretched guilt would bring shame on you. Nor can you honour me with public notice without dishonouring yourself. So don’t do that: my love for you is such that I value your reputation as though it were my own.