When I have seen by Time’s fell hand defac’d
The rich proud cost of outworn buried age;
When sometime lofty towers I see down-raz’d,
And brass eternal slave to mortal rage;
When I have seen the hungry ocean gain
Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,
And the firm soil win of the watery main,
Increasing store with loss, and loss with store;
When I have seen such interchange of state,
Or state itself confounded to decay;
Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate
That Time will come and take my love away.
This thought is as a death which cannot choose
But weep to have that which it fears to lose.
Sonnet 64: Translation to modern English
Having seen the glorious monuments of ages past – built by men now dead and buried – defaced by time’s terrible hand; having seen once high towers torn down, and hard brass destroyed by human anger; having seen the hungry ocean flood the shore and firm land fill parts of the sea, each one gaining and losing; having seen the way things change their nature, or even that very nature forced into decay, all that destruction has taught me to think this: that Time will come and take my love away. This thought is like death and I can’t do anything but weep about having something that I’m so afraid of losing.