Lo! in the orient when the gracious light
Lifts up his burning head, each under eye
Doth homage to his new-appearing sight,
Serving with looks his sacred majesty;
And having climb’d the steep-up heavenly hill,
Resembling strong youth in his middle age,
yet mortal looks adore his beauty still,
Attending on his golden pilgrimage;
But when from highmost pitch, with weary car,
Like feeble age, he reeleth from the day,
The eyes, ‘fore duteous, now converted are
From his low tract and look another way:
So thou, thyself out-going in thy noon,
Unlook’d on diest, unless thou get a son.
The poet explores another theme, different from those he has pursued in the preceding sonnets. He draws a simile between the rising and setting sun and youth and age. In the sunset of his days the youth will no longer be surrounded by admirers. Unless he has children to carry on the line and reflect his former beauty, he will vanish unknown into the murky depths of time.
When the sun rises, everyone admires it, and pays homage to it, as if it were a king. As it climbs higher in the sky to reach its zenith, mortals admire it still. But as it plunges downwards towards evening, the gaze is averted, and, like ‘unregarded age in corners thrown’, it is ignored and other rising stars take precedence. ‘So you too, fair youth, will be nothing as you age, unless you become the rising sun by having a son.’