As a decrepit father takes delight
To see his active child do deeds of youth,
So I, made lame by Fortune’s dearest spite,
Take all my comfort of thy worth and truth;
For whether beauty, birth, or wealth, or wit,
Or any of these all, or all, or more,
Entitled in thy parts, do crowned sit,
I make my love engrafted to this store:
So then I am not lame, poor, nor despis’d,
Whilst that this shadow doth such substance give
That I in thy abundance am suffic’d,
And by a part of all thy glory live.
Look what is best, that best I wish in thee:
This wish I have; then ten times happy me!
Sonnet 37 in modern English
In the same way as a decrepit father delights in watching his energetic child’s youthful activities, I, who have been crippled by the spitefulness of fortune, take comfort in your qualities and fidelity. Because, whether beauty, rank, wealth, or intelligence, or any of those, or all of them, or any additional qualities, are your crowning glories, I’m attaching my love to them. By doing that I’m not lame, poor nor despised, as long as this illusion has enough substance to allow your good luck to satisfy me and let me live off some of your glory. Whatever you consider the best that’s what I wish for you. In having this wish I’m ten times lucky.
Watch Sir Patrick Stewart read Shakespeare’s sonnet 37
The 1609 Quarto sonnet 37 version
AS a decrepit father takes delight, To ſee his actiue childe do deeds of youth, So I , made lame by Fortunes deareſt ſpight Take all my comfort of thy worth and truth. For whether beauty,birth,or wealth,or wit, Or any of theſe all,or all,or more Intitled in their parts,do crowned ſit, I make my loue ingrafted to this ſtore: So then I am not lame,poore, nor diſpiſ’d, Whilſt that this ſhadow doth ſuch ſubſtance giue, That I in thy abundance am ſuffic’d, And by a part of all thy glory liue: Looke what is beſt,that beſt I wiſh in thee, This wiſh I haue,then ten times happy me.