Summary and Analysis Sonnet 74



The poet continues his obsessive concern with his own death. Although he emphasizes his own inadequacy as a person, he boldly asserts the greatness of his verse: "My life hath in this line some interest, / Which for memorial still with thee shall stay." He claims that his better part will survive his death in his poems. In keeping with his exaggerated mood, the poet alludes to the belief that his demise will be "Too base" for the youth to remember, but the best part of him will survive in his immortal verse.

The poet's feeling that his sonnets are a memorial to the young man — and to the poet himself — is markedly different than his former attitude about his verse. Only two sonnets before, in Sonnet 72, he wrote of shame and characterized his verse as worthless: "For I am shamed by that which I bring forth, / And so should you, to love things nothing worth." But here in Sonnet 74, he claims that his verse has worth because it contains images of the youth, just as his body holds his soul. The concluding couplet, "The worth of that is that which it contains, / And that is this, and this with thee remains," restated means, "The human body has worth because it encapsulates the soul; these sonnets have worth because they encompass the youth's soul." The poet has come full circle — again — and now takes pride in his verse.