Original Text

Modern Text

Is it for fear to wet a widow’s eye
That thou consum’st thyself in single life?
Ah, if thou issueless shalt hap to die,
The world will wail thee like a makeless wife;
The world will be thy widow and still weep,
That thou no form of thee hast left behind,
When every private widow well may keep,
By children’s eyes, her husband’s shape in mind.
Look what an unthrift in the world doth spend
Shifts but his place, for still the world enjoys it;
But beauty’s waste hath in the world an end,
And kept unused, the user so destroys it.
  No love toward others in that bosom sits
  That on himself such murd'rous shame commits.
Are you eating up your own life by remaining single because you’re afraid your widow will cry when you die? Ah, if you happen to die childless, the entire world will mourn for you like a wife who’s lost her husband. The world will be your widow and weep forever about the fact that you didn’t leave a copy of yourself. But if you had left a wife behind, she’d have had her children to look at and remind her of her husband. A person who wastes his money is just shifting money around—at least the money’s still in the world. But if beauty is wasted, the world loses it forever: If a beautiful person doesn’t use his beauty, he destroys it. The person who would commit such a murderous outrage on himself has no love in his heart for others.

Popular pages: Shakespeare’s Sonnets