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Shakespeare's Sonnets - Sonnet 1


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Shakespeare's Sonnets - Sonnet 1
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Sonnet 1



In this first of many sonnets about the briefness of human life, the poet reminds the young man that time and death will destroy even the fairest of living things. Only if they reproduce themselves will their beauty survive. The young man’s refusal to beget a child is therefore self-destructive and wasteful.

From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty’s rose might never die,
But, as the riper should by time decease,
4His tender heir might bear his memory.
But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed’st thy light’s flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
8Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.
Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament
And only herald to the gaudy spring
Within thine own bud buriest thy content
12And, tender churl, mak’st waste in niggarding.
 Pity the world, or else this glutton be—
 To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.