Shakespeare’s Sonnets

by: William Shakespeare

Sonnet 1

page Sonnet 1 Page 1

Original Text

Modern 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’s 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, mak’st waste in niggarding.
  Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
  To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.
We want the most beautiful people to have children, so their beauty will be preserved forever—when the parent dies, the child he leaves behind will remind us of his beauty. But you, in love with your own pretty eyes, are letting your beauty burn itself out. You’re starving the world of your beauty rather than spreading the wealth around. You’re acting like your own worst enemy! Right now you’re the best-looking thing in the world, the only person as beautiful as springtime. But your beauty is like a new bud, and you’re letting it die before it can develop and bring you true happiness. You’re a young man, but you act like an old miser—you’re wasting your beauty by hoarding it and keeping it to yourself! Take pity on the rest of us, or this is how you’ll be remembered: as the greedy pig who hogged his own beauty and took it with him to the grave.

Shakespeare’s Sonnets: Popular pages