Search Menu

Original Text

Modern Text

Those pretty wrongs that liberty commits
When I am sometime absent from thy heart,
Thy beauty and thy years full well befits,
For still temptation follows where thou art.
Gentle thou art, and therefore to be won;
Beauteous thou art, therefore to be assailed;
And when a woman woos, what woman’s son
Will sourly leave her till he have prevailed?
Ay me, but yet thou might’st my seat forbear,
And chide thy beauty and thy straying youth,
Who lead thee in their riot even there
Where thou art forced to break a twofold truth:
  Hers by thy beauty tempting her to thee,
  Thine by thy beauty being false to me.
Those charming little infidelities that you commit when I’m away from you for awhile are understandable given your youth and beauty, since you’re continually tempted wherever you go. You’re noble and distinguished, so women see you as a prize catch. You’re beautiful, and therefore women pursue you aggressively. And when a woman is the pursuer, what man will rudely refuse her to get his point across? But, oh my—you might at least stay away from my mistress and keep your beauty and youthful urges in line, as they’re leading you into debauchery, which breaks two bonds: my mistress’s fidelity to me, which your beauty tempts her to break, and your bond with me, which your beauty, again, lets you break.