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Shakespeare's Sonnets - Sonnet 53


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Shakespeare's Sonnets - Sonnet 53
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Sonnet 53



Using language from Neoplatonism, the poet praises the beloved both as the essence of beauty (its very Idea, which is only imperfectly reflected in lesser beauties) and as the epitome of constancy.

What is your substance, whereof are you made,
That millions of strange shadows on you tend?
Since everyone hath, every one, one shade,
4And you, but one, can every shadow lend.
Describe Adonis, and the counterfeit
Is poorly imitated after you;
On Helen’s cheek all art of beauty set,
8And you in Grecian tires are painted new.
Speak of the spring and foison of the year;
The one doth shadow of your beauty show,
The other as your bounty doth appear,
12And you in every blessèd shape we know.
 In all external grace you have some part,
 But you like none, none you, for constant heart.