Ah! wherefore with infection should he live,
And with his presence grace impiety,
That sin by him advantage should achieve,
And lace itself with his society?
Why should false painting imitate his cheek,
And steal dead seeing of his living hue?
Why should poor beauty indirectly seek
Roses of shadow, since his rose is true?
Why should he live, now Nature bankrupt is,
Beggar’d of blood to blush through lively veins?
For she hath no exchequer now but his,
And proud of many, lives upon his gains.
O! him she stores, to show what wealth she had.
Sonnet 67: Translation to modern English
Ah, why should he have to be surrounded by corruption, gracing sinners with his presence, only to be taken advantage of by them? Why should shallow paintings be allowed to imitate his features, resulting in lifeless copies of his vital beauty? Why should the less beautiful be falsely represented as roses when he is a true rose? What’s the purpose of his being alive now that Nature has become bankrupt, unable to produce enough of the blood needed to imbue human beings with life and colour? It’s because he is the only treasure in her bank and, having so many children to support, she depends on that. Oh, she hoards him to show what wealth she had in times past, before these recent hard times.
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