Shakespeare's Sonnets Navigator Summary of Sonnet 121 in the Table of Contents Notes for Sonnet 121

Shakespeare's Sonnet 121

  1    'Tis better to be vile than vile esteemed,
  2    When not to be receives reproach of being,
  3    And the just pleasure lost, which is so deemed
  4    Not by our feeling, but by others' seeing:
  5    For why should others' false adulterate eyes
  6    Give salutation to my sportive blood?
  7    Or on my frailties why are frailer spies,
  8    Which in their wills count bad what I think good?
  9    No, I am that I am, and they that level
 10    At my abuses reckon up their own;
 11    I may be straight, though they themselves be bevel;
 12    By their rank thoughts my deeds must not be shown,
 13      Unless this general evil they maintain:
 14      All men are bad, and in their badness reign.

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