Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear,
Thy dial how thy precious minutes waste;
The vacant leaves thy mind’s imprint will bear,
And of this book, this learning mayst thou taste.
The wrinkles which thy glass will truly show
Of mouthed graves will give thee memory;
Thou by thy dial’s shady stealth mayst know
Time’s thievish progress to eternity.
Look what thy memory cannot contain,
Commit to these waste blanks, and thou shalt find
Those children nursed, deliver’d from thy brain,
To take a new acquaintance of thy mind.
These offices, so oft as thou wilt look,
Shall profit thee and much enrich thy book.
Sonnet 77: Translation to modern English
Your mirror will show you how your beauty is wearing out; your sundial how your precious minutes are wasting away. Blank pages will record your thoughts and you may learn this from your notebook: The wrinkles that your mirror will honestly reveal will remind you of gaping graves: from the stealthy movement of the shade on your dial you will learn about time’s thievish progress to eternity. Write down the thoughts you won’t be able to remember on these blank pages and you will see that those children, nursed and grown up, will strike you as new acquaintances in time to come. If you do all that it will be of benefit to you and greatly enrich your book.
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