"A few years ago I suggested sonnet 74 for Shakespeare's traditional birthday, also death-day. That is an optimistic one about the survival of his ideas beyond the grave as "the better part of me." I imagine it to be the poet's own epitaph. More typical of the sonnets' gloomy meditations on evanescence, and the grieving for loss of friends, and the small consolations of memorial, is the equally excellent sonnet 65. Here, in all its originally printed glory, with unexpurgated long-s's that look like f's:
SInce braſſe,nor ſtone,nor earth,nor boundleſſe ſea,
But ſad mortallity ore-ſwaies their power,
How with this rage ſhall beautie hold a plea,
Whoſe action is no ſtronger then a flower?
O how ſhall ſummers hunny breath hold out,
Againſt the wrackfull ſiedge of battring dayes,
When rocks impregnable are not ſo ſtoute ,
Nor gates of ſteele ſo ſtrong but time decayes?
O fearfull meditation , where alack,
Shall times beſt Iewell from times cheſt lie hid?
Or what ſtrong hand can hold his ſwift foote back,
Or who his ſpoile or beautie can forbid ?
O none,vnleſſe this miracle haue might,
That in black inck my loue may ſtill ſhine bright.
Happy 446, Bill!"