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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Elizabethan Verse. 1907.

How Like a Winter Hath My Absence Been

William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

HOW like a Winter hath my absence been

From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!

What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen,

What old December’s bareness everywhere!

And yet this time removed was summer’s time;

The teeming Autumn, big with rich increase.

Bearing the wanton burden of the prime

Like widow’d wombs after their Lord’s decease:

Yet this abundant issue seem’d to me

But hope of orphans and unfather’d fruit;

For Summer and his pleasures wait on thee,

And, thou away, the very birds are mute:

Or if they sing, ’tis with so dull a cheer

That leaves look pale, dreading the Winter’s near.