William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 59

The opening of William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 59 references Ecclesiastes 1:9–10.

If there be nothing new, but that which is
Hath been before, how are our brains beguiled,
Which, laboring for invention, bear amiss
The second burden of a former child.
O, that record could with a backward look,
Even of five hundred courses of the sun,
Show me your image in some antique book,
Since mind at first in character was done,
That I might see what the old world could say
To this composèd wonder of your frame;
Whether we are mended, or whe’er better they,
Or whether revolution be the same.
O, sure I am the wits of former days
To subjects worse have given admiring praise.

To learn more about Sonnet 59, check out this study guide from Poem Analysis.


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