Sonnet 79

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Sonnet 79

Whilst I alone did call upon thy aid,
My verse alone had all thy gentle grace;
But now my gracious numbers are decay'd,
And my sick Muse doth give an other place.
I grant, sweet love, thy lovely argument
Deserves the travail of a worthier pen;
Yet what of thee thy poet doth invent
He robs thee of, and pays it thee again.
He lends thee virtue, and he stole that word
From thy behaviour; beauty doth he give,
And found it in thy cheek: he can afford
No praise to thee, but what in thee doth live.
Then thank him not for that which he doth say,
Since what he owes thee, thou thyself dost pay.

–William Shakespeare

Sonnet 79 is one of 154 sonnets written by the English playwright and poet William Shakespeare. It's part of the Fair Youth sequence, in which the poet expresses his love towards a young man.


When the poet wrote of the youth, his verse partook of his the youth's charms. But now his poetry has weakened another poet has taken his place. This poet takes the beauties and virtues of his verse from the youth and returns them to him in the form of poetry. Therefore the youth owes him no thanks for his verse, since he has given it its merits.