Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties were;
Thy dial how thy precious minutes waste:
The vacant leaves thy mind's imprint will bear,
And of this book, this learning mayst thou taste,
The wrinkles which thy glass will truly show
Of mouthed graves will give thee memory:
Thou by thy dials' shady stealth may'st know,
Times thievish progress to eternity.
Look! What thy memory cannot contain,
Commit to these-waste blacks-and thou shalt find
These children nursed, deliver'd from thy brain
To take a new acquaintance of thy mind.
These offices, so oft as thou wilt look,
Shall profit thee and much enrich thy book.
Note the repetition of the following-thy glass, thy beauties, thy dal, thy precious minutes, thy mind, thy glass, thy dial, thy memory, thy brain, thy mind, thy book.
Here Bacon tells us that-in his old age-he is sitting down before a looking glass and looking at the reflection of his face which shows him worn out by time. But that his memory will imprint the leaves of his book and that old age (that wrinkles show) will enable him to remember in spite of time passing to eternity. He suggests that the reader before he forgets should make records of any things that he wishes to remember by writing them down (commit to waste blacks) in black lead and then the reader will find that the children of his brain will always be remembered. Bacon himself adopted this method and kept a notebook in which he jotted down in his own handwriting notes of anything which would be useful to him in his literary work-he called this his promus or notebook and this book containing 1,600 notes is now in the British Museum. In 1605, Bacon wrote that he held that the keeping of commonplace books to be of great use in studying.
If Bacon did not write this sonnet-it is strange that someone else should have had exactly the same ideas and recorded them in a sonnet.