For this be the fortieth year of my reign. Thus I bring to thee words of inspiration from mine favorite quiller.
|Anne Hathaway's House in Stratford Upon Avon.|
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 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.
This sonnet was written in praise of a friend of Will's and as encouragement to the friend to procreate. The only way to live forever, Will believed.