Sonnet Iv: Unthrifty Loveliness, Why Dost Thou Spend

Poem By William Shakespeare

Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend
Upon thy self thy beauty's legacy?
Nature's bequest gives nothing, but doth lend,
And being frank she lends to those are free:
Then, beauteous niggard, why dost thou abuse
The bounteous largess given thee to give?
Profitless usurer, why dost thou use
So great a sum of sums, yet canst not live?
For having traffic with thy self alone,
Thou of thy self thy sweet self dost deceive:
Then how when nature calls thee to be gone,
What acceptable audit canst thou leave?
Thy unused beauty must be tombed with thee,
Which, used, lives th' executor to be.

Comments about Sonnet Iv: Unthrifty Loveliness, Why Dost Thou Spend

The theme presented in the previous sonnets continues, but this time the poet states his case using a mercantile conceit. It is simply bad business for the young friend to spend his beauty's legacy on himself. Nature's account must be settled properly, and this can only be accomplished through procreation
The youth is urged once again not to throw away without regard the beauty which is his to perfection. It is Nature's gift, but only given on condition that it is used to profit the world, that is, by handing it on to future generations. An analogy is drawn from money-lending: the usurer should use his money wisely. Yet the young man has dealings with himself alone, and cannot give a satisfactory account of time well spent. If he continues to behave in such a way, his beauty will die with him, whereas he could leave inheritors to benefit from his legacy.
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