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Cupid laid by his brand, and fell asleep:
A maid of Dian's this advantage found,
And his love-kindling fire did quickly steep
In a cold valley-fountain of that ground;
Which borrow'd from this holy fire of love
A dateless lively heat, still to endure,
And grew a seething bath, which yet men prove
Against strange maladies a sovereign cure.
But at my mistress' eye Love's brand new-fired,
The boy for trial needs would touch my breast;
I, sick withal, the help of bath desired,
And thither hied, a sad distemper'd guest,
   But found no cure: the bath for my help lies
   Where Cupid got new fire; my mistress' eyes.


CLIII. This and the following Sonnet, placed as they are at the end, are best regarded, perhaps, as constituting a division by themselves. Both treat, though with some differences, of the same theme, that "Love's fire heats water; water cools not love." The discovery of the source whence the fable was (though, as is probable, indirectly) derived is due to Herzberg (Shakespeare Jahrbuch, vol. xiii.). He tracked the legend to a poem in the Anthology, by Marianus, written, as he thinks likely, in the fifth century after Christ:
"Here, under the plane-trees, Love, having placed his torch by the Nymphs, overpowered by gentle slumber, was sleeping. Then said the Nymphs to one another, 'Why do we delay? Would that we could put out, together with this, the fire in the heart of mortals!' But as the torch inflamed also the waters, the Love-nymphs from thence draw warm water for their bath."

The Epigram is ix. 627 of the Palatine Anthology. This and the following Sonnet are manifestly based upon the Epigram, though neither is properly a translation of it.

2. A maid of Dian's. Similarly we have in the following Sonnet "many nymphs that vow'd chaste life to keep."

6. Dateless. Eternal. Cf. xxx. 6. "Heat perpetual" in the next Sonnet.

8. Strange. Q. has "strang," which might possibly represent "strong."

11. Bath. The idea of a reference to the city of Bath can scarcely seem very probable, whatever may be true as to Shakespeare's fondness for puns.

14. Eyes. Q. has "eye."

How to cite this article:
Shakespeare, William. Sonnets. Ed. Thomas Tyler. London: D. Nutt, 1890. Shakespeare Online. 20 Dec. 2013. < >.

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Shakespeare on Love

My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.
                   Romeo and Juliet, 2.2

Here is our collection of Shakespeare's most inspired and romantic passages on love and devotion.