O thou, my lovely boy, who in thy pow'r
Dost hold time’s fickle glass, his sickle hour,
Who hast by waning grown, and therein show’st
Thy lovers withering, as thy sweet self grow’st—
If nature, sovereign mistress over wrack,
As thou goest onwards still will pluck thee back,
She keeps thee to this purpose: that her skill
May time disgrace, and wretched minute kill.
Yet fear her, O thou minion of her pleasure;
She may detain, but not still keep, her treasure.
Her audit, though delayed, answered must be,
And her quietus is to render thee.
Oh, my lovely boy, you seem to have power over time itself, immune to its capacity to cut things down. You’ve only grown more beautiful as you’ve aged, revealing in the process how withered I, your lover, have become. If nature, which has power over destruction, has chosen to hold you back from decay, she’s doing so for this reason: to disgrace time and kill its effects. Yet in spite of this, you should fear her, though you’re nature’s best-loved pet. She can preserve you for a time, but she can’t keep you, her treasure, always. Nature will eventually be called to offer her accounts, and though she can delay this, she has to do it, and the way she’ll pay her debt to time is with you. ( )