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.
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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