1

The first seventeen sonnets argue that the youth should marry and have children in order to preserve his physical beauty through children.
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1From fairest creatures we desire increase,

increase,

procreation, offspring.
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That thereby beauty's rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease

riper

the elder, the parent.
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His tender heir might bear his memory:
5But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,

contracted

betrothed.
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Feed'st thy light's flame with self-substantial fuel,

self-substantial

from your own substance.
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Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.
Thou that art now the world's fresh ornament,
10And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content,

content,

(1) contents, (2) contentment.
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And, tender churl, mak'st waste in niggarding.

niggarding.

paradoxically, wasting by saving (himself from marriage).
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Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee.

When forty winters shall besiege thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty's field,

field,

create wrinkles in his brow.
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Thy youth's proud livery, so gazed on now,

livery,

attractive clothes (and, metaphorically, youthful flesh).
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Will be a tattered weed of small worth held:
20Then being asked, 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

use

investment.
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25If thou couldst answer, "This fair child of mine
Shall sum my count, and make my old excuse,"

excuse,"

justify my accounting, and excuse my age.
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Proving his beauty by succession thine.

succession

through inheritance.
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This were to be new made when thou art old,
And see thy blood warm when thou feel'st it cold.

Look in thy glass, and tell the face thou viewest,

glass,

mirror.
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Now is the time that face should form another,
Whose fresh repair, if now thou not renewest,

repair,

youthful state.
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Thou dost beguile the world, unbless some mother.

beguile

cheat.
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35For where is she so fair whose uneared womb

uneared

unplowed.
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Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry?

husbandry?

farming (punningly).
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Or who is he so fond will be the tomb
Of his self-love, to stop posterity?
Thou art thy mother's glass, and she in thee
40Calls back the lovely April of her prime;
So thou through windows of thine age shalt see,

age

when you look back in your old age.
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Despite of wrinkles, this thy golden time.
But if thou live remembered not to be,
Die single, and thine image dies with thee.