A critical reading of a Shakespeare sonnet
Shakespeare’s Sonnet 6, which begins ‘Then let not winter’s ragged hand deface / In thee thy summer’, is not the most famous of the 154 Sonnets Shakespeare wrote. And yet it develops the theme of procreation – seen in the first 17 poems in the sequence – in interesting ways. Here is Sonnet 6, along with a brief analysis of its language and a summary of its argument.
Then let not winter’s ragged hand deface,
In thee thy summer, ere thou be distilled:
Make sweet some vial; treasure thou some place
With beauty’s treasure ere it be self-killed.
That use is not forbidden usury,
Which happies those that pay the willing loan;
That’s for thy self to breed another thee,
Or ten times happier, be it ten for one;