Skip to main content
or search all Shakespeare texts
Back to main page

Shakespeare's Sonnets - Sonnet 17


Navigate this work

Shakespeare's Sonnets - Sonnet 17
Jump to

Sonnet 17



As further argument against mere poetic immortality, the poet insists that if his verse displays the young man’s qualities in their true splendor, later ages will assume that the poems are lies. However, if the young man leaves behind a child, he will remain doubly alive—in verse and in his offspring.

Who will believe my verse in time to come
If it were filled with your most high deserts?
Though yet, heaven knows, it is but as a tomb
4Which hides your life and shows not half your parts.
If I could write the beauty of your eyes
And in fresh numbers number all your graces,
The age to come would say “This poet lies;
8Such heavenly touches ne’er touched earthly faces.”
So should my papers, yellowed with their age,
Be scorned, like old men of less truth than tongue,
And your true rights be termed a poet’s rage
12And stretchèd meter of an antique song.
 But were some child of yours alive that time,
 You should live twice—in it and in my rhyme.