The first of the “procreation sonnets” is about beauty’s bounty perishing over time. Its sole antidote is procreation. Shakespeare warns the reader (and the young man) not to be consumed by narcissistic self consumption. But to indulge in procreation so as to pass along beauty, for inheritance is but a memory, and in memory lies immortality.
The poem asserts how beauty is sustained in harmony. It points out how the way of nature sustains life, and thereby beauty. It touches upon the question of mortality and finds an answer in the Avarroesian concept of the eternal soul of humanity rather than eternal, individual souls as capable of inheriting and passing over beauty, untinted and untouched by the recklessness of sluttish time.
A thing of beauty is a joy forever.John Keats
Though the beauty in Shakespeare’s sonnet is inadvertently referred to a person’s beauty, the core idea of beauty lives on as it is passed over stretches to any form of beauty. This could be anything- a smile, a hug, an act of kindness, a piece of poem or a work of art. Whatever it be, it increases when shared. This universal quality of beauty is carefully infused into the sonnet with the use of universal images of spring, flower and light,traditionally associated with beauty. This could be how Shakespeare manages to make this sonnet feel personal, even to a reader from a different time and space.