Shakespeare's Sonnets: When forty winters shall besiege thy brow

Sonnet 2

Original Text: 
SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS (London: G. Eld for T. T. and sold by William Aspley, 1609): b1r-b1v.
2And dig deep trenches in thy beauty's field,
5Then being askt where all thy beauty lies,
7To say within thine own deep-sunken eyes
9How much more praise deserv'd thy beauty's use
10If thou could'st answer, "This fair child of mine
13    This were to be new made when thou art old,
14    And see thy blood warm when thou feel'st it cold.


1] forty winters: Shakespeare dates a man "old" (13) at 40 years, that is, if speaking for himself, his age in 1604. Back to Line
3] livery] clothes or distinctive outfit supplied to a lord's servants so to identify their household and function. Prosody makes the word trisyllabic. Back to Line
4] totter'd] tattered. weed] wild plant; clothes. Back to Line
6] lusty] delightful. Back to Line
8] An eleven-syllable line: perhaps originally "Were all-eating shame ..." thriftless: worthless. Back to Line
11] sum my count] give my reckoning. make my old excuse] extenuate my old age. Back to Line
12] succession] his child lawfully inherits his former beauty. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: