Shall I die?

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Shall I die?  (1630s) 
attributed to William Shakespeare

This nine-verse love lyric was ascribed to Shakespeare in a manuscript collection of verses probably written in the late 1630s. In 1985 Gary Taylor drew attention to the attribution, leading to widespread scholarly discussion of it. The attribution is not widely accepted, with numerous scholars agreeing that authorship is not certain and the attribution unreliable.

Shall I die? Shall I fly
Lover's baits and deceits
sorrow breeding?
Shall I tend? Shall I send?
Shall I sue, and not rue
my proceeding?
In all duty her beauty
Binds me her servant for ever.
If she scorn, I mourn,
I retire to despair, joining never.

Yet I must vent my lust
And explain inward pain
by my love conceiving.
If she smiles, she exiles
All my moan; if she froan,
all my hopes deceiving -
Suspicious doubt, O keep out,
For thou art my tormentor.
Fie away, pack away;
I will love, for hope bids me venture.
'Twere abuse to accuse
My fair love, ere I prove
her affection.
Therefore try! Her reply
Gives me joy - or annoy,
or affliction.
Yet howe'er, I will bear
Her pleasure with patience, for beauty
Sure will not seem to blot
Her deserts, wronging him doth her duty.

In a dream it did seem -
But alas, dreams do pass
as do shadows -
I did walk, I did talk
With my love, with my dove
through fair meadows.
Still we passed till at last
We sat to repose us for pleasure.
Being set, lips met,
Arms twined, and did bind my heart's treasure.

Gentle wind sport did find
Wantonly to make fly
her gold tresses.
As they shook I did look,
But her fair did impair
all my senses.
As amazed, I gazed
On more than a mortal complexion.
You that love can prove
Such force in beauty's inflection.
Next her hair, forehead fair,
Smooth and high; neat doth lie,
without wrinkle,
Her fair brows; under those,
Star-like eyes win love's prize
when they twinkle.
In her cheeks who seeks
Shall find there displayed beauty's banner;
O admiring desiring
Breeds, as I look still upon her.

Thin lips red, fancy's fed
With all sweets when he meets,
and is granted
There to trade, and is made
Happy, sure, to endure
still undaunted.
Pretty chin doth win
Of all their culled commendations;
Fairest neck, no speck;
All her parts merit high admirations.

Pretty bare, past compare,
Parts those plots which besots
still asunder.
It is meet naught but sweet
Should come near that so rare
'tis a wonder.
No mis-shape, no scape
Inferior to nature's perfection;
No blot, no spot:
She's beauty's queen in election.

Whilst I dreamt, I, exempt
From all care, seemed to share
pleasure's plenty;
But awake, care take -
For I find to my mind
pleasures scanty.
Therefore I will try
To compass my heart's chief contenting.
To delay, some say,
In such a cause causeth repenting.

This work was published before January 1, 1927, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.