Shakespeare's Sonnets: 'Tis better to be vile than vile esteemed

Sonnet 121

Original Text: 

SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS (London: G. Eld for T. T. and sold by William Aspley, 1609): h2r.

1'Tis better to be vile than vile esteemed
3And the just pleasure lost, which is so deemed
4Not by our feeling but by others' seeing.
5For why should others' false adulterate eyes
7Or on my frailties why are frailer spies
8Which in their wills count bad what I think good?
10At my abuses reckon up their own.
12By their rank thoughts, my deeds must not be shown
13    Unless this general evil they maintain:
14    All men are bad and in their badness reign.


2] to be] to be vile. Back to Line
6] Give salutation to] greet. Back to Line
9] level] aim, target. Extrametrical, with line 11. Back to Line
11] bevel] crooked. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: