Who will believe my verse in time to come,
If it were fill’d with your most high deserts?
Though yet, heaven knows, it is but as a tomb
Which hides your life and shows not half your parts.
If I could write the beauty of your eyes
And in fresh numbers number all your graces,
The age to come would say ‘This poet lies:
Such heavenly touches ne’er touch’d earthly faces.’
So should my papers yellow’d with their age
Be scorn’d like old men of less truth than tongue,
And your true rights be term’d a poet’s rage
And stretched metre of an antique song:
But were some child of yours alive that time,
You should live twice; in it and in my rhyme.
This is the final ‘procreation’ sonnet, in which the youth is urged to have a child so that he may live (forever?) both in that child, and in the verse which the poet writes celebrating his beauty. If you do not have a child, argues the poet, there will be no proof that you were as beautiful as I claim you to be, and my verse will be disbelieved. The memory of you will be distorted, and the descriptions of you which adorn this page will be scorned like the speech of babbling old men, or the worn out ideas of a vanished age. Therefore take heed and prepare for the future and the threatened night of oblivion.