Poetry

William Shakespeare – When I Consider Everything That Grows

“When I consider everything that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment,
That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
Whereon the stars in secret influence comment”

– William Shakespeare


Although William Shakespeare is primarily lauded for his plays, he also wrote a significant amount of poetry during his life, including a collection of 154 sonnets that were published together in a quarto in 1609. This 15th sonnet forms part of the ‘Fair Youth’ sonnets that were seemingly addressed to a young man and were occupied with themes of aging, passing time and the transience of physical beauty. In this poem, Shakespeare reflects on the conceit of the ‘inconstant stay’ of youth, but then resolves that as time takes away the youth of his beloved, he will graft it or recreate it again through his poetry.


When I Consider Everything That Grows (Sonnet 15)

When I consider everything that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment,
That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
Whereon the stars in secret influence comment;
When I perceive that men as plants increase,
Cheered and check’d even by the selfsame sky,
Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease,
And wear their brave state out of memory;
Then the conceit of this inconstant stay
Sets you most rich in youth before my sight,
Where wasteful Time debateth with Decay
To change your day of youth to sullied night;
And all in war with Time for love of you,
As he takes from you, I engraft you new.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
From: All the Sonnets of Shakespeare

Leave a Reply