Thus can my love excuse the slow offense
Of my dull bearer when from thee I speed:
From where thou art why should I haste me thence?
Till I return, of posting is no need.
O, what excuse will my poor beast then find
When swift extremity can seem but slow?
Then should I spur, though mounted on the wind;
In wingèd speed no motion shall I know.
Then can no horse with my desire keep pace;
Therefore desire of perfect’st love being made,
Shall neigh no dull flesh in his fiery race.
But love for love thus shall excuse my jade:
Since from thee going he went willful-slow,
Towards thee I’ll run, and give him leave to go.
Reading of Sonnet 51
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:
Thus can my loue excuse the slow offence,
Of my dull bearer, when from thee I speed,
From where thou art, why should I hast me thence,
Till I returne of posting is noe need.
O what excuse will my poore beast then find,
When swift extremity can seeme but slow,
Then should I spurre though mounted on the wind,
In winged speed no motion shall I know,
Then can no horse with my desire keepe pace,
Therefore desire (of perfects¹ loue being made)
Shall naigh noe dull flesh in his fiery race,
But loue, for loue, thus shall excuse my iade,
Since from thee going, he went wilfull slow,
Towards thee ile run, and giue him leaue to goe.
Wording differences between the text and the reading are noted with a superscript:
¹ perfect’st (either way OK)