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When forty winters shall beseige thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty's field,
Thy youth's proud livery, so gazed on now,
Will be a tatter'd weed, of small worth held:
Then being ask'd where all thy beauty lies,
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days,
To say, within thine own deep-sunken eyes,
Were an all-eating shame and thriftless praise.
How much more praise deserved thy beauty's use,
If thou couldst answer 'This fair child of mine
Shall sum my count and make my old excuse,'
Proving his beauty by succession thine!
    This were to be new made when thou art old,
    And see thy blood warm when thou feel'st it cold.


When forty years have made your brow wrinkled with age,
And you are showing all the other signs of aging,
The pride and greatness of your youth, so much admired by everyone now,
Will be worth as little as a tattered weed:
Then, when you are asked 'where is your beauty now?',
And, 'where is the treasure from your days of merriment?'
You must say, within your own eyes, now sunk deep in their sockets,
Where lies a shameful confession of greed and self-obsession.
If you would have only put your beauty to a greater use,
If only you could answer 'This fair child of mine
Shall give an account of my life and prove that I made no misuse of my time on earth.'
Proving that his beauty, because he is your son, was once yours!
    This child would be new-made when you are old,
   And you would see your own blood flow warm through him when you are cold.

Please click here for explanatory notes.

How to cite this article:
Shakespeare, William. Sonnet 2. Ed. Amanda Mabillard. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2009. < >.

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Points to Ponder... "I don't think it matters much who "W. H." was. The great question is, do Shakspere's Sonnets speak his own heart and thoughts or not? And were it not for the fact that many critics really deserving the name of Shakespeare students, and not Shakespeare fools, have held the Sonnets to be merely dramatic, I could not have conceived that poems so intensely and evidently autobiographic and self-revealing, poems so one with the spirit and inner meaning of Shakspere's growth arid life, could ever have been conceived to be other than what they are, the records of his own loves and fears. And I believe that if the acceptance of them as such had not involved the consequence of Shakespeare's intrigue with a married woman, all readers would have taken the Sonnets as speaking of Shakespeare's own life. But his admirers are so anxious to remove every stain from him, that they contend for a non-natural interpretation of his poems." (F.J. Furnivall. The Leopold Shakespeare, p.72.)