Where art thou, Muse, that thou forget’st so long
To speak of that which gives thee all thy might?
Spend’st thou thy fury on some worthless song,
Dark'ning thy pow'r to lend base subjects light?
Return, forgetful Muse, and straight redeem
In gentle numbers time so idly spent;
Sing to the ear that doth thy lays esteem,
And gives thy pen both skill and argument.
Rise, resty Muse; my love’s sweet face survey,
If time have any wrinkle graven there;
If any, be a satire to decay,
And make time’s spoils despisèd everywhere.
Give my love fame faster than time wastes life;
So thou prevent’st his scythe and crookèd knife.
Where have you been, Muse, that you have forgotten for so long to inspire me to write about the person who gives you all your power? Are you using up your inspiration on some worthless poem, eclipsing your true powers by making unworthy topics seem brighter? Return, forgetful Muse, and make up for the time you’ve wasted by inspiring me to write some gentle verses. Inspire poems addressed to my beloved, the person who actually likes your songs, and who gives you both poetic skill and a topic to write about. Get up, sleepy Muse: Examine my beloved’s sweet face to see if time has engraved any wrinkles on it. If there are any, then satirize aging and make everybody despise time’s destructive powers. Make my beloved famous faster than time can destroy his life; prevent time’s knife from cutting my beloved down.