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Jorie Graham reading "Sonnet 65" by William Shakespeare, March 13, 1997, at The New School, New York, NY. From the Academy Audio Archive.
About this Poem 

“Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea (Sonnet 65)” was first published in Shake-speares Sonnets (Thomas Thorpe, 1609).

Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea (Sonnet 65)

Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea
But sad mortality o'er-sways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?
O, how shall summer's honey breath hold out
Against the wreckful siege of battering days,
When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
Nor gates of steel so strong, but time decays?
O fearful meditation! where, alack,
Shall time's best jewel from time's chest lie hid?
Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?
Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid?
O, none, unless this miracle have might,
That in black ink my love may still shine bright.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare, regarded as the foremost dramatist of his time, wrote more than thirty plays and more than one hundred sonnets, all written in the form of three quatrains and a couplet that is now recognized as Shakespearean.

by this poet

But, lo! from forth a copse that neighbours by,
A breeding jennet, lusty, young, and proud,
Adonis' trampling courser doth espy,
And forth she rushes, snorts and neighs aloud;
     The strong-neck'd steed, being tied unto a tree,
     Breaketh his rein, and to her straight goes he.

Imperiously he leaps, he
When that I was and a little tiny boy,
    With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
    For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came to man's estate,
    With hey, ho, . . .
'Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gate
    For the rain, . . .

But when I came, alas! to wive
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead!
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man,
As modest stillness and humility;
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger:
Stiffen the sinews, conjure up the blood,
Disguise fair