O how I faint when I of you do write,
Knowing a better spirit doth use your name,
And in the praise thereof spends all his might,
To make me tongue-tied speaking of your fame.
But since your worth, wide as the ocean is,
The humble as the proudest sail doth bear,
My saucy bark, inferior far to his,
On your broad main doth willfully appear.
Your shallowest help will hold me up afloat,
Whilst he upon your soundless deep doth ride;
Or, being wracked, I am a worthless boat,
He of tall building and of goodly pride.
Then, if he thrive and I be cast away,
The worst was this: my love was my decay.
I get very discouraged when I write about you, knowing that a superior writer is writing about you too. He uses all of his powers of praise to make me tongue-tied when I write about your glory. But since your worth is as big as the ocean, able to support the smallest boat as well as the biggest ship, my impudent little boat, which is far inferior to his, stubbornly makes an appearance on your waters. Even at your shallowest, you keep me afloat, while he sails out over your measureless depths. And if I wind up being wrecked, I’m only a worthless little vessel, whereas he’s a tall ship—something to be proud of. So if he does well and I find myself shipwrecked and discarded, the worst I can say is this: I was destroyed because of my love for you.