For shame! deny that thou bear’st love to any,
Who for thyself art so unprovident.
Grant, if thou wilt, thou art beloved of many,
But that thou none lovest is most evident;
For thou art so possess’d with murderous hate
That ‘gainst thyself thou stick’st not to conspire.
Seeking that beauteous roof to ruinate
Which to repair should be thy chief desire.
O, change thy thought, that I may change my mind!
Shall hate be fairer lodged than gentle love?
Be, as thy presence is, gracious and kind,
Or to thyself at least kind-hearted prove:
Make thee another self, for love of me,
That beauty still may live in thine or thee.
This is the first sonnet of the series in which the poet declares a personal interest in the youth, rather than the general one of desiring for the world’s sake that it be not deprived of his progeny. Here there are two statements, firstly, that he wishes to have an opportunity to change his opinion of the youth (l.9), as implying that his (the poet’s) better opinion is of some value; secondly he attempts the persuasive argument of ‘for love of me’ in order to produce a change in the youth’s intentions. Neither of these amount to a declaration of love, although they do half imply it, for what is love if it is not reciprocated? In any case it is in some sense preparatory to the more impassioned statements of several of the sonnets which are to follow.
Apart from that, the argument of this sonnet is similar to that of the previous one: ‘Be not wilfully selfish and cruel to mankind, but replace and repair your decaying mansion by procreation. In that way you live on, and I myself and others will think the better of you.’
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