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Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend
Upon thyself thy beauty’s legacy?
Nature’s 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 unused beauty must be tombed with thee,
  Which usèd lives th' executor to be.
You wasteful lovely person, why are you spending all of your beauty on yourself? Nature doesn’t give us anything; she only lends us the gifts we get at birth, and, being generous herself, she lends the most to people who are generous themselves. So, you beautiful miser, why do you abuse the bountiful gifts that were given to you to share with others? Why do you insist on being such a bad investor, using up the immense treasure you have to offer the world but unable to support yourself or preserve your memory? By only having dealings with yourself, you’re cheating yourself out of the best part of yourself. Then how, when nature says it’s time for you to go, will you be able to give an acceptable account of how you spent your time and beauty? Your unused beauty will have to be buried with you. But if you used that beauty now, it would stay behind once you were gone and preserve your legacy.

Popular pages: Shakespeare’s Sonnets