'When Truth and Virtue have to do with thee, A thousand crosses keep them from thy aid: They buy thy help; but Sin ne'er gives a fee, He gratis comes; and thou art well appaid As well to hear as grant what he hath said. My Collatine would else have come to me When Tarquin did, but he was stay'd by thee.

'Guilty thou art of murder and of theft, Guilty of perjury and subornation, Guilty of treason, forgery, and shift, Guilty of incest, that abomination; An accessory by thine inclination To all sins past, and all that are to come, From the creation to the general doom.

'Mis-shapen Time, copesmate of ugly Night, Swift subtle post, carrier of grisly care, Eater of youth, false slave to false delight, Base watch of woes, sin's pack-horse, virtue's snare; Thou nursest all and murder'st all that are: O, hear me then, injurious, shifting Time! Be guilty of my death, since of my crime.

'Why hath thy servant, Opportunity, Betray'd the hours thou gavest me to repose, Cancell'd my fortunes, and enchained me To endless date of never-ending woes? Time's office is to fine the hate of foes; To eat up errors by opinion bred, Not spend the dowry of a lawful bed.

'Time's glory is to calm contending kings, To unmask falsehood and bring truth to light, To stamp the seal of time in aged things, To wake the morn and sentinel the night, To wrong the wronger till he render right; To ruinate proud buildings with thy hours, And smear with dust their glittering golden towers;

'To fill with worm-holes stately monuments, To feed oblivion with decay of things, To blot old books and alter their contents, To pluck the quills from ancient ravens' wings, To dry the old oak's sap and cherish springs, To spoil antiquities of hammer'd steel, And turn the giddy round of Fortune's wheel;

'To show the beldam daughters of her daughter, To make the child a man, the man a child, To slay the tiger that doth live by slaughter, To tame the unicorn and lion wild, To mock the subtle in themselves beguiled, To cheer the ploughman with increaseful crops, And waste huge stones with little waterdrops.

'Why work'st thou mischief in thy pilgrimage, Unless thou couldst return to make amends? One poor retiring minute in an age Would purchase thee a thousand thousand friends, Lending him wit that to bad debtors lends: O, this dread night, wouldst thou one hour come back, I could prevent this storm and shun thy wrack!

'Thou cease!ess lackey to eternity, With some mischance cross Tarquin in his flight: Devise extremes beyond extremity, To make him curse this cursed crimeful night: Let ghastly shadows his lewd eyes affright; And the dire thought of his committed evil Shape every bush a hideous shapeless devil.

'Disturb his hours of rest with restless trances, Afflict him in his bed with bedrid groans: Let there bechance him pitiful mischances, To make him moan; but pity not his moans: Stone him with harden'd hearts, harder than stones; And let mild women to him lose their mildness, Wilder to him than tigers in their wildness.

'Let him have time to tear his curled hair, Let him have time against himself to rave, Let him have time of Time's help to despair, Let him have time to live a loathed slave, Let him have time a beggar's orts to crave, And time to see one that by alms doth live Disdain to him disdained scraps to give.

'Let him have time to see his friends his foes, And merry fools to mock at him resort; Let him have time to mark how slow time goes In time of sorrow, and how swift and short His time of folly and his time of sport; And ever let his unrecalling crime Have time to wail th' abusing of his time.

'O Time, thou tutor both to good and bad, Teach me to curse him that thou taught'st this ill! At his own shadow let the thief run mad, Himself himself seek every hour to kill! Such wretched hands such wretched blood should spill; For who so base would such an office have As slanderous deathsman to so base a slave?

The baser is he, coming from a king, To shame his hope with deeds degenerate: The mightier man, the mightier is the thing That makes him honour'd, or begets him hate; For greatest scandal waits on greatest state. The moon being clouded presently is miss'd, But little stars may hide them when they list.

William Shakespeare
Classic Literature Library

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