The other two, slight air, and purging fire
Are both with thee, wherever I abide;
The first my thought, the other my desire,
These present-absent with swift motion slide.
For when these quicker elements are gone
In tender embassy of love to thee,
My life, being made of four, with two alone
Sinks down to death, oppress’d with melancholy;
Until life’s composition be recured
By those swift messengers return’d from thee,
Who even but now come back again, assured
Of thy fair health, recounting it to me:
This told, I joy; but then no longer glad,
I send them back again, and straight grow sad.
Sonnet 45: Translation to modern English
The other two elements, light air and purging fire, are with you, wherever I may be. The first is my thought, the other my desire. They slide easily between us. When those faster elements are away on a loving mission to you my life, which is made of four, left with only two, sinks downwards to death with depression until it’s revived by the return from you of those swift messengers. Even now, making sure that you’re in good health, they’ve just returned to tell me that. Hearing that I rejoice but then I become sad once more and send them back again and immediately fall into a depression.
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