Sonnet 83

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Sonnet 83

I never saw that you did painting need,
And therefore to your fair no painting set;
I found, or thought I found, you did exceed
The barren tender of a poet's debt:
And therefore have I slept in your report,
That you yourself, being extant, well might show
How far a modern quill doth come too short,
Speaking of worth, what worth in you doth grow.
This silence for my sin you did impute,
Which shall be most my glory being dumb;
For I impair not beauty being mute,
When others would give life, and bring a tomb.
There lives more life in one of your fair eyes
Than both your poets can in praise devise.

–William Shakespeare

Sonnet 83 is one of 154 sonnets written by the English playwright and poet William Shakespeare. It's a member of the Fair Youth sequence, in which the poet expresses his love towards a young man.


The youth does not need to be described or painted (with cosmetics), but exceeds what can be written about him. Therefore the poet has given up attempting to express the youth's worth, so that the reality will show up the weakness of his poetry. The youth has objected to the poet's silence, while the Rival Poet is writing, but the reality of the youth's beauty is much greater than both poets could express.