Sonnet 153

by WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE ((1564-1616)

CUPID laid by his brand, and fell asleep:
A maid of Dian’s this advantage found,
And his love-kindling fire did quickly steep
In a cold valley-fountain of that ground;
Which borrow’d from this holy fire of Love
A dateless lively heat, still to endure,
And grew a seething bath, which yet men prove
Against strange maladies a sovereign cure.
But at my mistress’ eye Love’s brand new-fired,
The boy for trial needs would touch my breast;
I, sick withal, the help of bath desired,
And thither hied, a sad distemper’d guest,
But found no cure: the bath for my help lies
Where Cupid got new fire—my mistress’ eyes.

Shakespeare Droeshout Engravings Print

“Sonnet 153: When Shakespeare penned this poem and Sonnet 154, he was elaborating a conceit already at least a thousand years old. The Greek Anthology records a six-line epigram by Marianus Scholasticus, a fifth-century Byzantine poet … however … Shakespeare could have found the epigram in one of several modern languages, or in Latin.” from The Sonnets and A Lover’s Complaint (2000)
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