Reading of Sonnet 5
Click on video to play
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.
Modern Spelling and Punctuation
Those hours that with gentle work did frame
The lovely gaze where every eye doth dwell
Will play the tyrants to the very same
And that unfair which fairly doth excel.
For never-resting time leads summer on
To hideous winter and confounds him there;
Sap checked with frost and lusty leaves quite gone,
Beauty o’ersnowed and bareness everywhere.
Then, were not summer’s distillation left,
A liquid prisoner pent in walls of glass,
Beauty’s effect with beauty were bereft,
Nor it nor no remembrance what it was.
But flowers distilled though they with winter meet,
Leese but their show; their substance still lives sweet.
Simplified Modern English Translation
That time that slowly passes by to create
the beautiful features that everyone admires in you
will inevitably turn into an enemy of that beauty
and slowly undo all the excellence it has created.
For time inevitably passes from summer
to winter, undoing the bounty of the former season.
Warmth and lustiness are replaced with cold and decay.
Beauty becomes hidden, and bareness is everywhere.
Then, if it were not for the fact that a rose of summer can be distilled
into precious liquid perfume containing the essence of that rose,
the rose’s beauty (like yours!) would completely disappear,
and there would be no remembrance of its former glory.
But the memory of a beautiful flower can live on, even in winter.
Although the original copy may wither, its essence can be distilled.
Text from Original 1609 Quarto
Transcription courtesy of University of Virginia Library:
Those howers that with gentle worke did frame,
The louely gaze where euery eye doth dwell
Will play the tirants to the very same,
And that vnfaire which fairely doth excell:
For neuer resting time leads Summer on,
To hidious winter and confounds him there,
Sap checkt with frost and lustie leau’s quite gon.
Beauty ore-snow’d and barenes euery where,
Then were not summers distillation left
A liquid prisoner pent in walls of glasse,
Beauties effect with beauty were bereft,
Nor it nor noe remembrance what it was.
But flowers distil’d though they with winter meete,
Leese but their show, their substance still liues sweet.