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Sonnet 1
Williams Shakespeare
Subject matter
This poem is predicated on ‘facts of life’. This is because it obviously treats the issue of life cycle by emphasising breeding or siring. Since the poet persona indicates that there is a direct addressee of his verse we can opine that the persona apprises a beloved of the requisite of procreation as a natural monument of anybody and as a sustainer of humanity.
 The themes are humanity, procreation, transience (especially of life and beauty).
The poet personal discusses the love of humans for increase. That increase is related to ripening and budding. The tender rose replaces the wilted one and by that keeps the memory of the dead ones. In that light, the persona then makes his addressee to know that he (addressee) is being cruel by hoarding produce and causing famine. He is a niggard and a glutton because he does not start a family to breed and give the world its due. The consequence is that the grave will eat him and the world’s due buried within him will be eaten and wasted. So, failure to spend one’s self to benefit the continuity of humanity is a waste.
Visual images are employed in the poem. The images evoked are related to agriculture or horticulture and beauty: rose, riper (mature), tender (fresh), famine, ornament. There’s also a reference to ‘grave’.
The poem deals with the argument that (we) all want increase from best pleasant creatures. That is suggestive of human beings who are the most developed and wonderful of all creatures. Humans desire procreation that their kind may not go into extinction. “Beauty’s rose” in line 2 may mean beauty. However, a holistic examination will reveal that ‘beauty’ refers to “fairest creatures” mentioned in line 1. So, human is the beauty. The rose of man, that is, the glory of man’s beauty, can only be preserved (that it might not die) through procreation. The theme of procreation is sustained to the end of the poem. It is used to treat the theme of death or transience of life. The ‘riper’, referring to the old ones will die as time passes. But if there is an heir the dead will enjoy continuity and will not be forgotten.
Having established a validation of the essentiality of siring in line 1 to 4, the poet persona further argues in line 5 to 8 by challenging the addressee’s ‘intention to refuse to have children'. The addressee is so satisfied with himself such that his eyes feed on himself. That is, he only sees himself as substantial or ‘enough’. Since he refuses to yield and cause increase, he has cause famine or shortage when he has the resources to cause multiplication. The persona takes his subject so serious that he goes very personal by showing how unfriendly and cruel it is to refuse to have a family and procreate.
In the next quatrain, it is shown that the addressee is now at his prime. He is still fresh and beautiful. In fact, he is a source of beauty to the world. Nevertheless, he has chosen to deny the world of his ornamental content (offspring). The bud are buried within him. Thus he is a bad person who waste’s world’s property by being selfish.
The last two lines enjoin the addressee to reconsider his decision. That is, if not for himself, for the sake of the world, he must not let the portion of the world, of humanity’s continuity in him be buried with him beneath the grave.
Being the world’s fresh ornament asserts the vigour and achievement of the one being addressed. Beauty and achievement can be so deceptive or misleading such that someone may forget that ‘there is time for every purpose and season for everything. And it is a must that there be ageing and dying. The only way to exist further is to bud anew through the process or siring or mothering.
Humanity is shown to be so characterised by transience of individuals that its continuity is dependent on procreation. If that is the case, then procreation becomes a very serious natural moral choice of everybody regardless of the achievements and venerations

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