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Download Shakespeare's Sonnets
Last updated: Fri, Jul 31, 2015
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Navigate this workShakespeare's Sonnets
This sonnet describes a category of especially blessed and powerful people who appear to exert complete control over their lives and themselves. These persons are then implicitly compared to flowers and contrasted with weeds, the poem concluding with a warning to such persons in the form of a proverb about lilies.
They that have power to hurt and will do none,
That do not do the thing they most do show,
Who, moving others, are themselves as stone,
4Unmovèd, cold, and to temptation slow,
They rightly do inherit heaven’s graces
And husband nature’s riches from expense;
They are the lords and owners of their faces,
8Others but stewards of their excellence.
The summer’s flower is to the summer sweet,
Though to itself it only live and die;
But if that flower with base infection meet,
12The basest weed outbraves his dignity.
For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;
Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.