I grant thou wert not married to my Muse,
And therefore mayst without attaint o’erlook
The dedicated words which writers use
Of their fair subject, blessing every book.
Thou art as fair in knowledge as in hue,
Finding thy worth a limit past my praise;
And therefore art enforced to seek anew
Some fresher stamp of the time-bettering days.
And do so, love; yet when they have devis’d,
What strained touches rhetoric can lend,
Thou truly fair, wert truly sympathiz’d
In true plain words, by thy true-telling friend;
And their gross painting might be better usd
Where cheeks need blood; in thee it is abusd.
Sonnet 82: Translation to modern English
I admit that you’ve had no commitment to my poetry and can therefore survey, without guilt, the words of dedication other writers use about the beautiful subjects who grace their books. You are as knowledgeable as you are beautiful, and your qualities are beyond any skills I have to praise them. Therefore you’re forced to look again for a fresher representative of these modern literary times. So do that, Love. And yet, when that new poet has invented whatever elaborate devices he can borrow from rhetoric, you would – because you are truly beautiful – have been accurately represented by the true plain words of your honest friend. His exaggerated painting might be better employed on subjects who need colour: in you it’s a misuse.