Sonnet 1

William Shakespeare

Edited by Jack Lynch

The copy-text is Shake-speares Sonnets Never Before Imprinted (London, 1609). I’ve regularized the use of i and j, u and v, but have otherwise preserved the spelling, capitalization, and punctuation of the original. The notes are my own.

From fairest creatures we desire increase,° reproduction
That thereby beauties Rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heire might beare his memory:
But thou contracted° to thine owne bright eyes, agreed by contract
Feed’st thy lights flame with selfe substantiall fewell,
Making a famine where aboundance lies,
Thy selfe thy foe, to thy sweet selfe too cruell:
Thou that art now the worlds fresh ornament,
And only herauld to the gaudy spring, colorful
Within thine owne bud buriest thy content,
And tender chorle° makst wast in niggarding:° rogue, rascal — being miserly
    Pitty the world, or else this glutton be,
    To eate the worlds due, by the grave and thee.


selfe substantiall fewell
Fuel that comes from itself.
“A person or thing which precedes and announces the approach of another; a precursor” (SOED).
A difficult passage. Content here seems to mean “substance,” though there are hints of other meanings as well.