on the Edited Texts
modernized punctuation and (mostly American) spelling, here as
first editor of the 154 Runes I try to make sense of the textsby
definition an interpretive enterprisewhile staying as faithful to
the original lines as possible.
most texts are already knotty, I seldom select open punctuation
that would allow the broadest ranges of meanings. Editors of the Sonnets
have traditionally had to deal with the same dilemma, though the Runes
are even more obfuscatory than the Sonnets aremore teasing, gamelike,
slippery, and difficult to reduce to linearity. Sonnets editor Stephen
Booths decision to use minimal punctuation as he edits the Sonnets
seems admirable because it reduces editorial intrusion, but here as elsewhere
his paradigm cannot be mine. For my role, as I see it, is to point the
texts with clear road-markers so a first-time meanderer will not get hopelessly
lost. Open or minimal punctuation would tend to trigger too
many forking-paths effects and thus defeat the goal of moving directly
toward some kind of understanding of what a string of lines may mean.
ambiguity of the runic linestrings, I offer my edited versions undogmatically,
routinely sensing and regretting the loss of options I dont or cannot
choose because other choices rule them out. Every line or so exemplifies
some syntactic or lexical road not taken.
line glosses add options, clarifications, and puns that amplify
or even in many cases run counter to the sense Im trying to follow
and point upthus helping keep alive the gamy spirit of the texts.
Since vague pronoun reference is a routine riddlic aspect in the Runes,
I often try to clarify pronouns in the glosses. While I try to stay close
to details of the Q lines, sometimes punning forms of terms in Q seem
to allow more meaning and wit to flow than stricter readings. As editor
I am not a purist, and I cant claim any kind of consistency, except
that I do try to keep each text as seriously meaningful as
I cannot reducing it to its lowest level of joking or to its most
specific potential for conveying personal commentary about the poet. In
this sense, I think, I follow the precedent of previous editors of the
Sonnets. Occasionally I do resort to a personal readingas Will himself
does in the overt sonnets about Will having his will and so
Like editors of
the visible Sonnets, I might be accused of pushing the
low wit into the footnotes as I construe Wills
licentious lines. In any case, reader/players who dislike my editorial
choices can start from scratch with the paste-up strings and devise their
own versions. Improving on what I offer is not unlikely and can legitimately
be a part of what other gamesters in future years and ages aim for.
I probably make fewer changes in Qs wordforms than editors of the
visible Sonnets usually do. I make no real emendations (in the sense of
correcting Qs errors) butas I sayI
do sometimes regard puns as primary forms, for purposes of construing
a given text.
As the background notes
on the eleven individual sets indicate, the sets often display
some degree of thematic unity; sometimes they show formal, numerologic,
or typographic indicators of beginnings or endings. Some of their puns
comment on the positions of individual visible texts on the set leafmuch
as the erroneous heading of Sonnet 119 (labelled 116
in Q) links with the comment about an error that might or
might not be "upon me proved."