Shakespeare's Sonnets - Sonnet 4
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Last updated: Fri, Jul 31, 2015
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The poet returns to the idea of beauty as treasure that should be invested for profit. Here, the young man’s refusal to beget a child is likened to his spending inherited wealth on himself rather than investing it or sharing it generously.
Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend
Upon thyself thy beauty’s legacy?
Nature’s bequest gives nothing but doth lend,
4And being frank, she lends to those are free.
Then, beauteous niggard, why dost thou abuse
The bounteous largess given thee to give?
Profitless usurer, why dost thou use
8So great a sum of sums yet canst not live?
For, having traffic with thyself alone,
Thou of thyself thy sweet self dost deceive.
Then how, when nature calls thee to be gone,
12What acceptable audit canst thou leave?
Thy unused beauty must be tombed with thee,
Which usèd lives th’ executor to be.