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William Shakespeare
The Sonnets




Sonnet I (1)

From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty's rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His 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,
Thy self 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,
And, 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.




Sonnet I (1)
(Modernised with Notes)

From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty's rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory: (1)
But you, contracted to your own bright eyes,
Feed your light's flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Yourself, your enemy, to your sweet self too cruel: (2)
You that are now the world's fresh ornament,
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within your own bud you bury your content,
And, tender churl, make waste in niggarding: (3)
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee. (4)


NOTES

(1) It is from beautiful creatures (and all beautiful living things) that we want offspring, so that their beauty is reproduced and does not die when they die.

(2) But you, bound only to yourself (i.e. unmarried, a batchelor), keep your beauty to yourself, and in this you are your own worst enemy, killing it instead of sharing it.

(3) You, now in the prime of life (spring time of life), bury your beauty in your own bud instead of reproducing it, and by doing this you waste it.

(4) Instead of consuming (eating) your own beauty (like a glutton), you should take pity on the world and share it (as you are one of the beautiful creatures we desire offspring from).



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