Those pretty wrongs that liberty commits,
When I am sometime absent from thy heart,
Thy beauty, and thy years full well befits,
For still temptation follows where thou art.
Gentle thou art, and therefore to be won,
Beauteous thou art, therefore to be assail’d;
And when a woman woos, what woman’s son
Will sourly leave her till he have prevail’d?
Ay me! but yet thou might’st my seat forbear,
And chide thy beauty and thy straying youth,
Who lead thee in their riot even there
Where thou art forced to break a twofold truth:–
Hers by thy beauty tempting her to thee,
Thine by thy beauty being false to me.
Sonnet 41 in modern English
Those innocent infidelities that your independence allows you to commit when you occasionally forget about me are normal for someone with your youthfulness and beauty because temptation follows you wherever you go. You’re noble and therefore regarded as someone to be won. You’re beautiful and therefore to be pursued. And when a woman is the wooer what man would rudely refuse her till he has had his way with her? But dear me, you might resist when it comes to my mistress, and keep your beauty and youthful wantonness in check: they’re leading you into a lack of control that makes you break a double bond – hers by being tempted by your beauty, and yours, where your beauty makes you false to me.
Watch Sir Patrick Stewart read Shakespeare’s sonnet 41
The 1609 Quarto sonnet 41 version
Thoſe pretty wrongs that liberty commits, When I am ſome-time abſent from thy heart, Thy beautie,and thy yeares full well befits, For ſtill temptation followes where thou art. Gentle thou art,and therefore to be wonne, Beautious thou art,therefore to be aſſailed. And when a woman woes,what womans ſonne, Will ſourely leaue her till he haue preuailed. Aye me,but yet thou mighſt my ſeate forbeare, And chide thy beauty,and thy ſtraying youth, Who lead thee in their ryot euen there Where thou art forſt to break a two-fold truth: Hers by thy beauty tempting her to thee, Thine by thy beautie beeing falſe to me.