Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear,
Thy dial how thy precious minutes waste;
The vacant leaves thy mind’s imprint will bear,
And of this book, this learning mayst thou taste.
The wrinkles which thy glass will truly show
Of mouthed graves will give thee memory;
Thou by thy dial’s shady stealth mayst know
Time’s thievish progress to eternity.
Look what thy memory cannot contain,
Commit to these waste blanks, and thou shalt find
Those children nursed, deliver’d from thy brain,
To take a new acquaintance of thy mind.
These offices, so oft as thou wilt look,
Shall profit thee and much enrich thy book.
Sonnet 77 in modern English
Your mirror will show you how your beauty is wearing out; your sundial how your precious minutes are wasting away. Blank pages will record your thoughts and you may learn this from your notebook: The wrinkles that your mirror will honestly reveal will remind you of gaping graves: from the stealthy movement of the shade on your dial you will learn about time’s thievish progress to eternity. Write down the thoughts you won’t be able to remember on these blank pages and you will see that those children, nursed and grown-up, will strike you as new acquaintances in time to come. If you do all that it will be of benefit to you and greatly enrich your book.
Watch Sir Patrick Stewart read Shakespeare’s sonnet 77
The 1609 Quarto sonnet 77 version
THy glaſſe will ſhew thee how thy beauties were, Thy dyall how thy pretious mynuits waſte, The vacant leaues thy mindes imprint will beare, And of this booke,this learning maiſt thou taſte. The wrinckles which thy glaſſe will truly ſhow, Of mouthed graues will giue thee memorie, Thou by thy dyals ſhady ſtealth maiſt know, Times theeuiſh progreſſe to eternitie. Looke what thy memorie cannot containe, Commit to theſe waſte blacks,and thou ſhalt finde Thoſe children nurſt,deliuerd from thy braine, To take a new acquaintance of thy minde. Theſe offices,ſo oft as thou wilt looke, Shall profit thee,and much inrich thy booke.