Lord of my love, to whom
Thy merit hath my duty strongly knit,
To thee I send this written embassage,
To witness duty, not to show my wit:
Duty so great, which wit so poor as mine
May make seem bare, in wanting words to show it,
But that I hope some good conceit of thine
In thy soul's thought, all naked, will bestow it:
Till whatsoever star that guides my moving,
Points on me graciously with fair aspect,
And puts apparel on my tottered loving,
To show me worthy of thy sweet respect:
Then may I dare to boast how I do love thee;
Till then, not show my head where thou mayst prove me.
'Perhaps all is not as it seems. Perhaps you are not so lordly and I am not as unworthy as my poor wit pretends. Perhaps my loving is not as tattered as I make it out to be, and my reticence in boasting of it is a witness to my merit. Perhaps I have just that right to prove you (put you to the test) as you have to prove me'.
The 1609 Quarto Version
LOrd of my loue,to whome in vaſſalage
Thy merrit hath my dutie ſtrongly knit;
To thee I ſend this written ambaſſage
To witneſſe duty, not to ſhew my wit.
Duty ſo great, which wit ſo poore as mine
May make ſeeme bare,in wanting words to ſhew it;
But that I hope ſome good conceipt of thine
In thy ſoules thought( all naked ) will beſtow it:
Til whatſoeuer ſtar that guides my mouing,
Points on me gratiouſly with faire aſpect,
And puts apparrell on my tottered louing,
To ſhow me worthy of their ſweet reſpect,
Then may I dare to boaſt how I doe loue thee,
Til then,not ſhow my head where thou maiſt proue me.