Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion’s paws,
And make the earth devour her own sweet brood;
Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger’s jaws,
And burn the long-liv’d phoenix, in her blood;
Make glad and sorry seasons as thou fleet’st,
And do whate’er thou wilt, swift-footed Time,
To the wide world and all her fading sweets;
But I forbid thee one most heinous crime:
O! carve not with thy hours my love’s fair brow,
Nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen;
Him in thy course untainted do allow
For beauty’s pattern to succeeding men.
Yet, do thy worst old Time: despite thy wrong,
My love shall in my verse ever live young.
Sonnet 19 in modern English
Devouring Time, you may make the lion’s claws blunt and return all creatures to the earth from which they sprang; pull the teeth from the fierce tiger’s jaws, and destroy the phoenix in her fire. Do whatever you like, fast-running Time, to any beautiful fading thing in the world; but I forbid you to commit one heinous crime: oh don’t cut into my love’s beautiful brow, nor draw wrinkles there with your insane pen. As you go on your destructive course spare him as a pattern of beauty for posterity. But, do your worst, old Time. Whatever harm you do my love will remain young forever in my poetry.
Watch Sir Patrick Stewart read Shakespeare’s sonnet 19
The 1609 Quarto sonnet 19 version
DEuouring time blunt thou the Lyons pawes,
And make the earth deuoure her owne ſweet brood,
Plucke the keene teeth from the fierce Tygers yawes,
And burne the long liu’d Phœnix in her blood,
Make glad and ſorry ſeaſons as thou fleet’ſt,
And do what ere thou wilt ſwift-footed time
To the wide world and all her fading ſweets:
But I forbid thee one moſt hainous crime,
O carue not with thy howers my loues faire brow,
Nor draw noe lines there with thine antique pen,
Him in thy courſe vntainted doe allow,
For beauties patterne to ſucceding men.
Yet doe thy worſt ould Time diſpight thy wrong,
My loue ſhall in my verſe euer liue young.
See the British Library’s 1609 Quarto.