The poet imagines that the young man objects to the bliss of marriage on the grounds that he might die young anyway or that he might die and leave a bereaved widow and an orphaned child. To these arguments, the poet replies that should the young man marry, have a child, and then die, at least his widow will be consoled by the child whom the young man fathered; in this way, his image will not be destroyed with his death. Furthermore, by not marrying, the young man makes the whole world his widow.
Shakespeare continues the business imagery so prevalent in the previous sonnets. The concept of love is not entirely distinguished from commercial wealth, for Shakespeare relates those who traffic in love to the world at large. When an unthrifty person makes ill use of his inherited wealth, only those among whom he squanders it benefit. The paradox lies in the fact that the hoarding of love's beauty is the surest way of squandering it: Such consuming self-love unnaturally turns life inward, a waste felt by all.