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Sonnet 23

In honor of my daughter the actor, here’s Shakespeare’s thespian-themed Sonnet 23 (both original and modern text, courtesy of No Fear Shakespeare):

Original Text Modern Text
As an unperfect actor on the stage,
Who with his fear is put besides his part,
Or some fierce thing replete with too much rage,
Whose strength’s abundance weakens his own heart;
So I, for fear of trust, forget to say
The perfect ceremony of love’s rite,
And in mine own love’s strength seem to decay,
O’ercharged with burden of mine own love’s might.
O let my books be then the eloquence
And dumb presagers of my speaking breast,
Who plead for love and look for recompense
More than that tongue that more hath more expressed.
O learn to read what silent love hath writ!
To hear with eyes belongs to love’s fine wit.
Like an actor who hasn’t learned his lines perfectly and forgets his part because of stage fright, or like some raging animal or human whose excessive passion makes it weak, so I, because I can’t trust myself, forget to say the things a lover should say to his darling; just when my love is strongest it seems to be getting weak. So let my writings speak for my heart instead. They plead for love better than I could if I spoke, even if I said more and more eloquently. Oh, read in these silent lines the love I cannot express in speech. Love will give you the insight to read between the lines.

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