The payment of a poet Despite that there are many motifs of some kind of loan and feedback in Shakespeare’s sonnets’ cycle I’d like to focus on one, which appears already in sonnet 1. Here the author discusses the mortality of beauty. He thinks the beauty of things doesn’t fully belong to these things. Better it was given to them on a period of their lifetime for a loan. The same thing is with roses, the same thing is with the beauty of Shakespeare’s sonnets’ addressee. But addressee himself is not very much concerned with the mortality of a beauty. Therefore Shakespeare asks the addressee: “pity the world” and save this beauty somehow (Shakespeare 1062). The way in which the addressee should square up for having his beauty during his lifetime is borne in sonnet 3.
“Now is the time that face should form another,
For where is she so fair whose uneared womb
Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry?” (Shakespeare 1062)
Therefore, Shakespeare thinks the addressee should reproduce own beauty by having children. The beauty of a person is fading along with this person getting older. But it may never leave the world. If beauty is reproduced then the general sum of beauty will stay the same.
And yet it seems the addressee doesn’t want to reproduce his beauty because this subject is discussed by Shakespeare over many sonnets again and again. The concerned author later comes with another idea of how beauty may be saved from dying. In sonnet 55 he writes,
“Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme,
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
You live in this…” (Shakespeare 1066)
I think here Shakespeare finds his own duty as a poet. Because it’s he who enjoys addressee’s beauty, it’s also he, who must repay the loan and keep the beauty from dying by worshiping addressee in of sonnets.
Shakespeare, W. “Sonnets”. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Volume B: The Sixteenth Century and the Early Seventeenth Century. Eds. Greenblatt, S., Abrams, M.H., David, A., Lewalski, B. K. and others. 8th edition. W. W. Norton and Company, 2006.