In which the bard encourages
his lover to sire
a child so that his beauty may be preserved.
When forty winters shall besiege thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy beautys field,
Thy youths proud livery, so gazd on now,
Will be a tatterd weed, of small worth held:
Then being askd where all thy beauty lies,
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days,
To say, within thine own deep-sunken eyes,
Were an all-eating shame and thriftless praise.
How much more praise deservd thy beautys use,
If thou couldst answer, This fair child of mine
Shall sum my count, and make my old excuse,
Proving his beauty by succession thine!
This were to be new made when thou art old,
And see thy blood warm when thou feelst it cold.
The poet blames his
lover For having traffic with thyself alone, for
abusing bounteous largess.
Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend
Upon thyself thy beautys legacy?
Natures bequest gives nothing, but doth lend,
And 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
So 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,
What acceptable audit canst thou leave?
Thy unusd beauty must be tombd with thee,
Which used, lives th executor to be.
Here the poet again
implores his formerly profitless usurer to a more
fertile form of usury. [Treasure was a code word
for semen in Shakespearian times.]
Then let not winters ragged hand deface
In thee thy summer, ere thou be distilld:
Make sweet some vial; treasure thou some place
With beautys treasure, ere it be self-killd.
That use is not forbidden usury;
Which happies those that pay the willing loan;
Thats for thyself to breed another thee,
Or ten times happier, be it ten for one;
Ten times thyself were happier than thou art,
If ten of thine ten times refigurd thee;
Then what could death do, if thou shouldst depart,
Leaving thee living in posterity?
Be not self-willd, for thou art much too fair
To be deaths conquest and make worms thine heir.
In which the poet yields
to women the body of his beloved, but not his heart.
A womans face with Natures own hand painted
Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion,
A womans gentle heart, but not acquainted
With shifting change, as is false womans fashion,
An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth,
A man in hue, all hues in his controlling,
Which steals mens eyes and womens souls amazeth.
And for a woman wert thou first created,
Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting,
And by addition me of thee defeated
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
But since she prickd thee out for womens pleasure,
Mine be thy love, and thy loves use their treasure.
We might as well be lovers, the poet seems to say,
since men think us that already.
Tis better to be vile than vile esteemd,
When not to be receives reproach of being;
And the just pleasure lost, which is so deemd
Not by our feeling, but by others seeing:
For why should others false adulterate eyes
Give salutation to my sportive blood?
Or on my frailties why are frailer spies,
Which in their wills count bad what I think good?
No, I am that I am, and they that level
At my abuses reckon up their own:
I may be straight though they themselves be bevel;
By their rank thoughts my deeds must not be shown;
Unless this general evil they maintain,
All men are bad and in their badness reign.