May 14th, 2005


Poet's Corner: Poetry of Praise, No. 4

From Sonnets 2000: "Poetry of Praise, No. 4"

To Henry Wriothesley,
Third Earl of Southampton (1573-1624)

Shall I compare you to a summer’s day?
You were more lovely and more temperate,
He said, but many things that he would say
Were divertingly indeterminate.
Your poet friend wove elegant phrases,
But his talk of your eternal summer
Came from one of his make-believe phases,
The over-statement of a dazed lover.
Now death crows that you wander in his shade,
A nameless face in an ocean of souls.
Your poet said your fame would never fade,
But he was thinking more of his own goals:
Your wondrous summer was the occasion
To launch his own deathless reputation.

Stephen Denning