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Music to hear, why hear’st thou music sadly?
Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy.
Why lovest thou that which thou receivest not gladly,
Or else receivest with pleasure thine annoy?
If the true concord of well-tuned sounds,
By unions married, do offend thine ear,
They do but sweetly chide thee, who confounds
In singleness the parts that thou shouldst bear.
Mark how one string, sweet husband to another,
Strikes each in each by mutual ordering,
Resembling sire and child and happy mother
Who all in one, one pleasing note do sing:
Whose speechless song, being many, seeming one,
Sings this to thee: ‘thou single wilt prove none.’

Notes

Music to hear (1): An address to his dear friend: O you, whom it is music to hear.

Sweets with sweets war not (2): you are sweet, thus you should delight in things that are also sweet.

Why lovest thou…annoy (3-4): why listen to music that you don’t appear to love; or do you receive some gratification from your boredom (‘annoy’)?

concord (5): harmony.

unions (6): harmonious chords.

chide (7): scold.

confounds (7): destroys.

In singleness…bear (8): by remaining a childless bachelor, the friend is failing to play his part in the harmony of life, which is family.

thou single wilt prove none (14): you will amount to nothing by remaining single. Most editors reference Dowden’s annotation noting that the line is an allusion to the common saying “one is no number” (see also Sonnet 136).

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