William Shakespeare

An Ugly World Without Children - Sonnet IV

Our young man is called unthrifty loveliness because he spends and wastes nothing on anything but himself.


  1. Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend
    Upon thy self thy beauty's legacy?

  2. Nature's bequest gives nothing, but doth lend,
    And being frank she lends to those are free:

  3. Then, beauteous niggard, why dost thou abuse
    The bounteous largess given thee to give?

  4. Profitless usurer, why dost thou use
    So great a sum of sums, yet canst not live?

  5. For having traffic with thy self alone,
    Thou of thy self thy sweet self dost deceive:

  6. Then how when nature calls thee to be gone,
    What acceptable audit canst thou leave?

  7. Thy unused beauty must be tombed with thee,
    Which, used, lives th' executor to be.


1. Our young man is called 'unthrifty loveliness' because he spends and wastes nothing on anything but himself.

Say, your father (or yourself for that matter) has some considerable wealth, both personal and inherited, and he sees fit to ensure that no one inherits a jot from him. He cuts off all his children, his wife and relatives. He is possessed by a strange madness and goes far to plot their deaths.

Or even preventatively, he does all in his power never to produce heirs of his own. This is selfishness in its thickest fur!

2. If I lent you some money, then I might require it again from you - so you see, the money is yours and not yours. But if I gave you the money as a gift with no 'strings attached', then you may do whatever you pleased with the sum.

Now, it says here that the thing Nature gives, such as beauty or intelligence, is simply lent and never to be hoarded. If it is not returned to Nature directly, at least it should be shared with others - a kind of distributive justice.

3. This miser, instead of using his gifts (given to him by another - Nature) in the right and productive manner, uses them against the gift's own nature, and therefore ab-uses them. Say, you were a renowned Charity Establishment, dedicated to justly distributing donations of foods and moneys to the deserving, but you do as many so-called non-profit organizations do, you hoard and steal and play games while others suffer.

4. A fine expensive car that uses way too much petrol. You fill the tank and yet the car cannot move, but asks for more. This self-consumption is a radical sickness which profits nobody, not even the car!

5. Consequences begin to creep in.

6. Aha! when the government decides to send, without notice, some financial inspector or auditor, bad Organisations begin to panic and clean their computers and shred papers, only to be caught in the act.

Here, it is strict Madam Nature, punctual Sergeant Death, who, like a thief in the night, without any notice or allowance whatsoever, will come asking how our Narcissus has spent his goods - the largess given him to give.

This Death comes and grabs our man out of life completely, hair and nails. The only vital audit or letter or testament he could possibly use to explain his beautiful life's transactions, would be a child, his own very offspring, another of himself.

But alas, the Professor died without leaving behind his diary or notes! By selfishness, Narcissus let death have a double victory, over him and his continuable beauty.


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