Sonnet 9

Shakespeare. Sonnet 1

«Is it for fear to wet a widow’s eye
That thou consumest thyself in single life?».

The poet imagines that the young man objects to the bliss of marriage on the grounds that he might die young anyway or that he might die and leave a bereaved widow and an orphaned child.

Sonnet 9
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Is it for fear to wet a widow’s eye
That thou consumest 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 murderous shame commits.

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To these arguments, the poet replies that should the young man marry, have a child, and then die, at least his widow will be consoled by the child whom the young man fathered; in this way, his image will not be destroyed with his death. Furthermore, by not marrying, the young man makes the whole world his widow.

Shakespeare continues the business imagery so prevalent in the previous sonnets. The concept of love is not entirely distinguished from commercial wealth, for Shakespeare relates those who traffic in love to the world at large. When an unthrifty person makes ill use of his inherited wealth, only those among whom he squanders it benefit. The paradox lies in the fact that the hoarding of love’s beauty is the surest way of squandering it: Such consuming self-love unnaturally turns life inward, a waste felt by all.

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English audio from YouTube Channel Socratica

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