When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see,
For all the day they view things unrespected;
But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,
And darkly bright, are bright in dark directed.
Then thou, whose shadow shadows doth make bright,
How would thy shadow’s form form happy show
To the clear day with thy much clearer light,
When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so!
How would, I say, mine eyes be blessed made
By looking on thee in the living day,
When in dead night thy fair imperfect shade
Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth stay!
All days are nights to see till I see thee,
And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.

Sonnet 43: Translation to modern English

It’s when I’m most soundly asleep that my eyes best see because all day long they are looking at things that aren’t significant; but when I’m asleep they see you in dreams and glitter brightly, directed to your bright image in the dark. So how would you, whose very shadow brightens the dark, appear in daylight with your even brighter light, when your shadow shines so brightly to unseeing eyes? How would my eyes be blessed by seeing you in the full daylight when they already look at your beautiful image when sleep lies heavy upon them? Every day is a dark night until I’m able to see you and the nights are bright days when I see you in my dreams.

2 replies
  1. Ragan
    Ragan says:

    I am doing a research paper on some of Shakespeare’s sonnets, and I would like to use this one. I have a question though. When Shakespeare repeats words, like when he says:

    “Then thou, whose shadow shadows doth make bright,
    How would thy shadow’s form form happy show”

    What is it called? Is there a term that would make sense of why he repeats “shadow” and “form”?


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