O! that you were your self; but, love, you are
No longer yours, than you your self here live:
Against this coming end you should prepare,
And your sweet semblance to some other give:
So should that beauty which you hold in lease
Find no determination; then you were
Yourself again, after yourself's decease,
When your sweet issue your sweet form should bear.
Who lets so fair a house fall to decay,
Which husbandry in honour might uphold,
Against the stormy gusts of winter's day
And barren rage of death's eternal cold?
O! none but unthrifts. Dear my love, you know,
You had a father: let your son say so.
The persistent undertone of time's advance bringing winter, decay and death, here continues. The boy is urged to shore up his house against this eventual fate. But what seems to emerge more than anything from this poem is the inevitability and sadness of this demise, contrasted with the love and beauty which stands up bravely to fight against it, and the tenderness of the poet's affection for the youth.
The 1609 Quarto Version
OThat you were your ſelfe,but loue you are
No longer yours,then you your ſelfe here liue,
Againft this cumming end you ſhould prepare,
And your ſweet ſemblance to ſome other giue.
So ſhould that beauty which you hold in leaſe
Find no determination,then you were
You ſelfe again after your ſelfes deceaſe,
When your ſweet iſſue your ſweet forme ſhould beare.
Who lets ſo faire a houſe fall to decay,
Which husbandry in honour might vphold,
Againſt the ſtormy guſts of winters day
And barren rage of deaths eternall cold?
O none but vnthriſts,deare my loue you know,
You had a Father,let your Son ſay ſo.