Reading of Sonnet 43
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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.
Modernized Spelling and Punctuation
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 blessèd 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.
Simplified Modern English Translation
When I close my eyes to sleep, that is actually when I see the best,
for all day long I view things that are unimportant;
but when I sleep, in dreams I look on you
and your image brightens the darkness of the night.
Then, since your imaginary reflection brightens the dark shadows so,
how much more would your actual self be a beautiful sight
in the clear day with your personal presence,
when, to my closed eyes, your mere image shines so!
How blessed would my eyes be made
by looking at you in the light of day,
when in dead night your remembered image
through heavy sleep imprints itself so clearly on my mind!
I am blind every day since I cannot be with you,
but at night I see clearly, as I dream of you.
Text from Original 1609 Quarto
Transcription courtesy of University of Virginia Library:
When most I winke then doe mine eyes best see,
For all the day they view things vnrespected,
But when I sleepe, in dreames they looke on thee,
And darkely bright, are bright in darke directed.
Then thou whose shaddow shaddowes doth make bright,
How would thy shadowes forme, forme happy show,
To the cleere day with thy much cleerer light,
When to vn-seeing eyes thy shade shines so?
How would (I say) mine eyes be blessed made,
By looking on thee in the liuing day?
When in dead night their¹ faire imperfect shade,
Through heauy sleepe on sightlesse eyes doth stay?
All dayes are nights to see till I see thee,
*And nights bright daies when dreams do shew thee me,
* indicates fully justified line, compositor may have adjusted spelling to fit the line.
Wording differences between the text and the reading are noted with a superscript: