A Short Analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 1: ‘From fairest creatures’

Interesting Literature

A critical reading of a Shakespeare sonnet

‘From fairest creatures we desire increase’: so begins Sonnet 1 in Shakespeare’s Sonnets. This opening sonnet is all about procreation, but also, perhaps, sexual pleasure (including solitary sexual pleasure – about which we say more below). For the next 154 weeks (or nearly three years, in other words), we’re going to offer an analysis of one of Shakespeare’s sonnets every Monday. We’ll work through them in order, from 1 to 154, so we begin at the beginning here. What follows is our analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 1, with some glosses on the language and some commentary on the poem’s meaning.

From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty’s rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed’st thy light’s flame with self-substantial…

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