As an unperfect actor
on the stage,
Who with his fear is put beside 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 burthen of mine own love's might.
O! let my looks 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 express'd.
O! learn to read what silent love hath writ:
To hear with eyes belongs to love's fine wit.
Having committed himself perhaps more than he intended, the poet now has to explain why at times he is tongue-tied in his love's company. It is, he says, mainly due to the magnitude of his love, the hugeness of it being such that it becomes like a burden almost too large to carry. He is like an actor who cannot remember his lines, or a wild beast in a fury thrashing around in futility, unable to achieve anything. Let his love come to the rescue by understanding his looks, how they speak silently, how they foretell the store of love which is buried within, even more so than that other (poet? lover?) who is so glib with his tongue. Although love is blind, he has the ability, if he wishes, to hear with his eyes.
The 1609 Quarto Version
AS an vnperfect actor on the ſtage,
Who with his feare is put beſides his part,
Or ſome fierce thing repleat with too much rage,
Whoſe ſtrengths abondance weakens his owne heart;
So I for feare of truſt,forget to ſay,
The perfect ceremony of loues right,
And in mine owne loues ſtrength ſeeme to decay,
Ore-charg'd with burthen of mine owne loues might:
O let my books be then the eloquence,
And domb preſagers of my ſpeaking breſt,
Who pleade for loue,and look for recompence,
More then that tonge that more hath more expreſt.
O learne to read what ſilent loue hath writ,
To heare wit eies belongs to loues fine wiht.