O thou, my lovely boy, who in thy power
Dost hold Time’s fickle glass, his sickle hour;
Who hast by waning grown, and therein show’st
Thy lovers withering as thy sweet self grow’st.
If Nature, sovereign mistress over wrack,
As thou goest onwards still will pluck thee back,
She keeps thee to this purpose, that her skill
May Time disgrace, and wretched minutes kill.
Yet fear her, O thou minion of her pleasure!
She may detain, but not still keep, her treasure.
Her audit, though delayed, answered must be,
And her quietus is to render thee.
Reading of Sonnet 126
The images in the YouTube video are from an original 1609 edition of Shake-speares Sonnets held by the British Library. It is one of only thirteen copies in existence. Images courtesy of the Octavo Corporation.
Text from Original 1609 Quarto
Transcription courtesy of University of Virginia Library:
O thou my louely Boy who in thy power,
Doest hould times fickle glasse, his fickle, hower:
Who hast by wayning growne, and therein shou’st,
Thy louers withering, as thy sweet selfe grow’st.
If Nature (soueraine misteres ouer wrack)
As thou goest onwards still will plucke thee backe,
She keepes thee to this purpose, that her skill,
May time disgrace, and wretched mynuit¹ kill.
Yet feare her O thou minnion of her pleasure,
She may detaine, but not still keepe her tresure
Her Audite (though delayd) answer’d must be,
And her Quietus is to render thee.
Wording differences between the text and the reading are noted with a superscript: