Samuel Daniel: Repaying a Debt

October 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

I have a little book of sonnets I carry around with me for the train ride between Queens and Manhattan every day, and although I’ve read every sonnet in the book, I’m still surprised by a few of them when I come back to reading after a few months off. Every now and again, I find one that knocks me off my feet. “Repaying a Debt” is one of those, and is by Samuel Daniel, the man who authored my favorite sonnet, “He Can Write Only of Her.”

Not simple, but simply beautiful. I’ll hold off on the commentary on this one.



Unto the boundless ocean of thy beauty

Runs this poor river, charged with streams of zeal,

Returning thee the tribute of my duty

Which here my love, my youth, my plaints, reveal.

Here I unclasp the book of my charged soul

Where I have cast th’accounts of all my care;

Here I have summed my sighs, here I enroll

How they were spent for thee: Look what they are.

Look on the dear expenses of my youth

And see how just I reckon with thine eyes:

Examine well thy beauty with my truth,

And cross my cares ere greater sums arise.

Read it sweet maid, though it be done but slightly:

Who can show all his love, doth love but lightly.


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