«O, lest the world should task you to recite
What merit lived in me, that you should love».
Sonnet 72 echoes the mood of Sonnet 71, and the poet tells the youth not to praise his verse after the poet’s death, as his praise could not add to the merit of the poems and may bring ridicule to the youth.
O, lest the world should task you to recite
The poet’s self-denial displays a sense of hard-learned lessons: “My name be buried where my body is, / And live no more to shame nor me, nor you.” Although the poet never questions his own love for the youth, he does question the worth of his sonnets, perhaps because they do not bring him the young man’s affection.
And yet he never gives up hope of pleasing his friend or of protecting him from criticism from others: “For I am shamed by that which I bring forth, / And so should you, to love things nothing worth.” His characterizing his sonnets as “nothing worth” is one of the low points in the sonnets.
English audio from YouTube Channel Socratica
Summary from Cliffsnotes.com