This is a short summary of Shakespeare sonnet 1. Continue reading for complete analysis and meaning in the modern text. For the complete list of 154 sonnets, check the collection of Shakespeare Sonnets with analysis.
Shakespeare Sonnet 1 ORIGINAL TEXT
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’st flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thyself 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, makest waste in niggarding.
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.
Shakespeare Sonnet 1 MODERN TEXT (Translation)
Shakespeare Sonnet 1 Summary & Analysis
In the first quatrain of the Shakespeare Sonnet 1, the theme of beauty and life cycle is introduced. We desire that the “fairest creatures” (Everything and everyone, who is beautiful) should reproduce, in order to pass on their beauty’s rose. As the parents die when the time comes “But as the riper should by time decease” and are kept alive in the memory of their children “His tender heir might bear his memory”.
In the next quatrain, the speaker rebukes his lover for being too selfish and proud of his beauty “But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes”. The speaker further tells that his lover is the biggest enemy and too cruel to himself as he is “making a famine where abundance lies”.
The third quatrain talks about the beauty of the person, which is not permanent. The lover may now be beautiful and fresh “Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament, And only herald to the gaudy spring”. But his beauty will bury with himself and it will be a complete waste as he hasn’t passed his beauty.
Finally, in the couplet, the speaker suggests his lover to “Pity the world” and do what is expected from him. or else be like a greedy person who eats everything due to the world.