The Selfish Poet

Reading through these sonnets, right away it is easy to tell what the poet is trying to get the patron to do. In the sonnets known as the “procreation sonnets,” the poet is trying to get his- apparently very good looking- patron to sire a child before he becomes too old or before he dies. At first, the poet makes it sound like this would be something you should do for yourself. By having a child, you can keep your beauty alive and even live forever through your bloodline. The poet seems to really be gushing about the patron and that suggesting he have a child is really a compliment to his good fortune. However, the tone shifts and siring a child begins to sound like a duty. Indeed, the poet even states that mother nature intended the patron to have children when she gave him his good looks, comparing them to a stamp of approval to procreate. It is at this point when we start to realize that perhaps the poet has more selfish reasons behind wanting the patron to have children.

Shortly after the sonnets that outline the dutiful nature of procreating, the poet begins to sound more and more desperate. He states that without a child, the patron will essentially have lived and died in selfish shame for not sharing his looks with someone else. The poet then states that if no child is had, the only thing left to prove that the patron had been a beautiful man are these poems, which he states are inefficient. But who else would be reading these poems? Sonnets are personal, therefore the only people who are meant to read them are the poet and patron, and after the patron dies, who is left to read them but the poet? Therefore, the poet wishes the patron to have a child so that he might remember the beauty of the patron in a more direct way.

~Jade Knox


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