Shakespeare's sonnets, or simply The Sonnets, is a collection of poems in sonnet form written by William Shakespeare that deal with such themes as time, love, beauty and mutability. They were probably written over a period of several years. All 154 poems appeared in a 1609 collection, entitled SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS, comprising 152 previously unpublished sonnets and two (numbers 138 and 144) that had previously been published in a 1599 miscellany entitled The Passionate Pilgrim. The Sonnets were published under conditions that have become unclear to history.
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.
When forty winters shall besiege 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 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 deserv’d thy beauty’s use,If thou couldst answer ‘This fair child of mineShall 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.