If the dull substance of my flesh were thought,
Injurious distance should not stop my way;
For then despite of space I would be brought,
From limits far remote, where thou dost stay.
No matter then although my foot did stand
Upon the farthest earth remov’d from thee;
For nimble thought can jump both sea and land,
As soon as think the place where he would be.
But, ah! thought kills me that I am not thought,
To leap large lengths of miles when thou art gone,
But that so much of earth and water wrought,
I must attend time’s leisure with my moan;
Receiving nought by elements so slow
But heavy tears, badges of either’s woe.
Sonnet 44: Translation to modern English
If the dull substance of my flesh were thought instead of flesh, this destructive distance between us wouldn’t be a barrier because then, no matter how far away they were, I would come from the most remote regions to where you are. It wouldn’t matter, then, that my feet were planted on the furthest place on earth from you: nimble thought can jump over both land and sea as quickly as it can think of the place where it wants to be. But, ah, it’s killing me that I’m not made of thought, to leap over the many miles when you are gone but, being made of so much earth and water, I must fill the long hours without you with my complaint. I get nothing from such slow elements, except heavy tears, the mark of both elements.