Sonnet 104 William Shakespeare
To me, fair friend, you never can be old
- To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
- For as you were when first your eye I eyed,
- Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold
- Have from the forests shook three summers’ pride,
- Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turned
- In process of the seasons I have seen,
- Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burned
- Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green.
- Ah yet doth beauty, like a dial hand,
- Steal from his figure, an no pace perceived,
- So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand,
- Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceived.
- For fear of which, hear this, thou age unbred:
- Ere you were born was beauty’s summer dead.
- What type of poem is this? Give a reason for your answer.
- If you tell a friend he will never be old to you, what do you mean?
- Write “when first your eye I eyed” in standard English.
- How do you know this “friend” is beautiful? Find your proof in lines 1-4.
- Which four seasons are found in a year and write them in the order they appear.
- How many years later does the poet see his friend again?
- What association does the poet want you to make with the words “fresh” and “green”?
- In line 9 and 10 the poet compares beauty with what?
- Why does the poet think his eye is deceived?
- What compliment does the poet give his friend in the last two lines?
SONNET 104 PARAPHRASE
To me, fair friend, you never can be old,To me, my friend, you can never be old,
For as you were when first your eye I eyed, For as you were when we first saw each other,
Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold Such is your beauty still. Three cold winters
Have from the forests shook three summers' pride, Have shaken the splendour of three summers from the foliage,
Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turn'd Three wonderful springs have I seen turn to autumn
In process of the seasons have I seen, In the course of the four seasons,
Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burn'd, The perfumed scents of three Aprils burned up in three hot Junes,
Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green.Since first I saw you in all your youthful glory, and you are still young.
Ah, yet doth beauty, like a dial-hand,Ah, but beauty still moves forward, like the hands of a clock,
Steal from his figure and no pace perceived; Steal forward, with no motion to be observed.
So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand,In this way your appearance, which seem to me unchanged,
Hath motion and mine eye may be deceived: Is subject to Time's movement, and my eye may be deceived:
For fear of which, hear this, thou age unbred; Out of my fear that you will lose your looks, hear this*, you unborn generations;
Ere you were born was beauty's summer dead. Before you came into existence beauty was already dead*.
[Line 13]* 'Hear this' is a variation of 'hear ye', the cry that alerts the citizens to a public proclamation.
[Line 14]* The poet is saying that those unborn (in the womb) will never see beauty in its perfect form, ie) that time when Beauty (his lover) was at his peek and flourishing (in his summer).