Who is it that says most, which can say more,
Than this rich praise, that you alone, are you,
In whose confine immured is the store
Which should example where your equal grew?
Lean penury within that pen doth dwell
That to his subject lends not some small glory;
But he that writes of you, if he can tell
That you are you, so dignifies his story.
Let him but copy what in you is writ,
Not making worse what nature made so clear,
And such a counterpart shall fame his wit,
Making his style admired every where.
You to your beauteous blessings add a curse,
Being fond on praise, which makes your praises worse.
Sonnet 84: Translation to modern English
Which poet says the most? Which one can say more in praise of you than this: that you are unique? All beauty is packed into you, so what is there to compare you with anything other than yourself? It’s a very poor poet who can’t enhance his subject even a little. But whoever writes about you will dignify his writing by plain simple reporting. All he has to do is copy what is already written in you, not damaging what nature has made so perfectly, and he will have such an image that he will become famous, his style universally admired. In spite of all the beauty you’re blessed with you make the mistake of being too fond of praise, because that makes them write even worse praise in their efforts to flatter you.
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