Some Shakespearian Scholars consider this sonnet to be a kind of nexus for sonnets I through XXVI, in which The Bard is addressing himself to a younger male friend.

Three themes run through this series: (with modern colloquial translations)

  1. Marry young ("don't end up like me")
  2. A promise that the youth will be immortalized in verse ("You're not really dead until you're forgotten")
  3. Proclamations of his beauty ("you're such a hottie"; or, for those of us still caught in the early 90s, "You're so money")

All three themes are stated clear as crystal in this one sonnet; examples, respective with the above list:

  1. (line 13): "But were some child..." (presuming ol' Bill is frowning upon accomplishing this end by way of illegitimacy)
  2. (line 1): "Who will believe my verse...", (line 9): "So should my papers..."
  3. (line 5,6): "beauty of your eyes... all your graces"

While it is only later in the series that sonnets actually addressed to women appear, I never claimed to be a Shakespeare scholar, plus the text is completely gender neutral, so I have no qualms about letting a girl swoon as I recite it for her.