The themes of this sonnet can be traced throughout Shakespeare's sonnet cycle, particularly the early part. Shakespeare, in his sonnets 1–126, is particularly concerned with the passage of time and how it affects beauty, and also with how quickly time passes and leaves that beauty to exist only in writing. We can see this in the opening to this sonnet:
When in the chronicle of wasted timeI see descriptions of the fairest wights . . .
I see their antique pen would have express'dEven such a beauty as you master now.
For we, which now behold these present days,Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise.