Then let not winter’s ragged hand defaceIn thee thy summer, ere thou be distilled.Make sweet some vial; treasure thou some placeWith beauty’s treasure, ere it be self-killed.That use is not forbidden usuryWhich happies those that pay the willing loan;That’s 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 refigured thee.Then what could death do if thou shouldst depart,Leaving thee living in posterity?Be not self-willed, for thou art much too fairTo be death’s conquest and make worms thine heir.
Sonnet no 6 is a continuation of sonnet no 5. In the first quatrain, Shakespeare advises man to preserve the essence of his youth and his name before old age can destroy it. “Then let not winter’s ragged hand deface, in thee thy summer.” You should find a way to preserve your memory or name “Make sweet some vial; before you die.
In the second quatrain, he compares marriage to a loan where a man loans his body in marriage to woman. “That use is not forbidden usury”. He says it isn’t wrong to do so because a wife would be happy to repay the loan, “which happies those” in this case bear a child. In fact, you can even have ten children to make you ten times happier “Or ten times happier be it ten for one”
In the 4th quatrain, he says you would be happier to have your name or legacy carried on by ten children “If ten of thine ten times refigured thee.” Even death would not be able to cheat you of your legacy “Then what could death do if thou shouldst depart.” Your name would remain alive in your children “leaving thee living in posterity”
In the couplet, Shakespeare advises man not to be selfish “Be not self-willed”. You are too beautiful as a human being to leave this world and end up just a dying corpse decomposed by worms “To be death’s conquest and make worms thine”