When I have seen by time’s fell hand defaced
The rich proud cost of outworn buried age;
When sometime lofty towers I see down-razed,
And brass eternal slave to mortal rage;
When I have seen the hungry ocean gain
Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,
And the firm soil win of the watery main,
Increasing store with loss, and loss with store;
When I have seen such interchange of state,
Or state itself confounded to decay,
Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate,
That time will come and take my love away.
This thought is as a death, which cannot choose
But weep to have that which it fears to lose.
Now that I have seen time’s terrible hand deface the costly and splendid monuments of buried men from ages past, and once-lofty towers torn down; now that I have seen even hard brass subject to perpetual destruction by human beings; now that I have seen the hungry ocean swallow up the land and firm land seize territory from the ocean, so that each one’s loss is the other’s gain; now that I have seen that all things constantly change into something else or fall into decay—all this destruction has taught me to think: The time will come in which time will take my love from me. This thought feels like death, and makes me weep over what I have that I’m afraid of losing.