Shakespeare’s Lost Sonnets: A Restoration of the Runes
by Roy Neil Graves, Professor of English
The University of Tennessee at Martin

 The Edited Texts of the Runes
in the 1609 Quarto: Sets VII-IX
Copyright © Roy Neil Graves 2003, All Rights Reserved

 
       

 

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Set VII: Runes 85-98

—Notes on Set VII—  

         Collectively, the lines of the 28 texts here establish a scenario not new in Q but with its own twists: The absence of the poet’s unnamed muse makes even springtime feel like winter (Sonnets 97, 98); the “tongue-tied” posture of the muse (Sonnet 85.1) leaves Will’s verse uninspired and gives other poets the chance to “write good words” about the friend (Sonnet 85.5) while Will searches for new conceits to do his subject justice—a process that the outcomes here show to be much more profitable than the poet himself usually implies, despite the damage that the duplicitous project does to individual texts. Will feels self-pity over the friend’s disregard—hyperbolized as “hate” (Sonnet 90.1)—but continues to admire the friend’s beauty, both criticizing and rationalizing the friend’s “youthful, wanton” behavior (see Rune 87, Sonnet 96.1).
          All in all, the set explores personal and artistic implications of Will’s self-abasing commitment to the project at hand, whose deep-hued “fruit” we are just now unpacking. As usual, materials here often allude sotto voce to the overlaid elements at work in Q: e.g., any “rival” writer here (see, e.g., Sonnet 85.5, Rune 89.1-2) means in one sense Will himself, and his usual lament over “inarticulate,” unrespected verse has in mind the unread Runes we now belatedly broach. Many conceits gain unique meaning as analogues for the Runes themselves—e.g., the “deep hue” in the Rows or “canker” in the Rose (Rune 86.11, Sonnet 98.10); Will’s “strangled acquaintance” (Sonnet 89.8); the puzzling “after-loss” event (Rune 88.6, see Booth’s long comment); and the figurative “winter” that equates with the “real spring” of the friend’s absence (Sonnets 97.1, 98.1)
          One sure paradox in the set is that amid the complaints about ineffectual verse emerge striking conceits that prove the poet wrong (and deceptive) when he says his “mine” is exhausted (Rune 98.2). Rune 92 seems more honest, somewhat like the soliloquy of Prince Hal in 1 Henry IV 1.2.218ff. that shows us how the speaker is silently working to gain his eventual end. Through his own patient work, Will believes the poems and friend will endure (see, e.g., Runes 86, 92). In various ways Will’s contrived conceits represent himself, his friend, their mutual situation, and/or the Sonnets/Runes project. Notable tropes include the vocal comic figures of the “unlettered cleric” (Rune 90) and “Words” the braggart soldier (Rune 96); the broadly suggestive images of a striking gem on “the finger of a thronèd queen” (Rune 89) and of “widow’s laps” that belatedly bear unlikely fruit (Rune 92.13-14); and vivid new employments of such stock conceits as Diana’s arrow (Rune 85), the poet as court minstrel (Rune 89), Eve’s apple (Rune 97), and a red rose,here rich with sinister suggestiveness (Rune 94.14). The line about Will’s “patented”—i.e., runic—method (Rune 92.3) now makes full sense to us. Some runes in the set, with their disparate figures, objectify the choppy incoherence that Will apologizes for (e.g., Runes 93, 98). Indeed it is true that the arduous mode of Q did cause all the poems in the project to suffer strains.
          The layers of irony in the Q project and the vagueness with which Will admits us into the facts of the “real” world that is the basis for his fiction—these elements leave us still asking many of the familiar questions about the absent friend, the “other” poet(s), and Will’s “real” feelings for and experience with the muse he addresses. Courtly implications, and hints that the friend is superficially occupied with shallow companions (see,, e.g., Sonnet 95, Rune 86.12), seem to “fit” Southampton in the 1590s better than other known candidates for the muse slot.
        A quick overview of the set shows no traditionally popular sonnet, though Sonnets 91 (“Some glory in their birth”) and 97 (“How like a winter hath my absence been”) are reasonably familiar. The interesting “error” whereby some copies of Q show Charter as Chatter (Sonnet 87.3) seems playfully functional in Will’s overall plan, given how “The ‘chatter’ of [the friend’s] worth gives [that person] re-leafing [i.e., new paginations]” in the Runes. The term “chatter” also helps tie the poet to the figure of Words, the talky soldier; for in the runic context the military conceit has the poet assert that he will “fight” against himself and on the muse’s side (see Rune 87.3-4).
          The spread grouping of the set makes clear the couplet-like effect of the thirteenth and fourteenth units in the group—sonnets 97-98, about winter and spring. The pessimistic close of the couplet lines of this “couplet” pair overlays the whole set in the same way that any couplet in any sonnet gives it its final tone color. My selection of a title for the set holds this fact in mind.
          The vertical acrostic code on the set page—MSS VVTTH F SH F VVBS—suggests such readings as “Mss. witty, evasive webs” and “Mss. witty, this sheaf W.- ‘B.S.’ [F=S].” The strings SVV (suggesting Sue, WS reversed) and TT (suggesting Thomas Thorpe) emerge in this codeline, along with BS, suggesting “Bess.” This string, of course, is visible only on the composite leaf and is not apparent in the acrostic of Rune 85, which proceeds numerically and horizontally.

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                         Rune 85
     (First lines, Set VII: Sonnets 85-98)

     My tongue-tied muse in manners holds her still.
     Was it the proud full sail of his? Great Verse,
     Farewell, thou art too dear for my possessing.
 4  When thou shalt be disposed to set me light,
     Say that thou didst forsake me for some fault;
     Then hate me when thou wilt, if ever, now.
     Some glory in their birth, some in their skill;
 8  But do thy worst to steal thyself away,
     So shall I live, supposing thou art true:
     They that have power to hurt, and will do none.
     How sweet and lovely dost thou make the shame!
12 
Some say thy fault is youth, some wantonness.
     How like a winter hath my absence been
     From you. Have I been absent in the spring?
__________
     Glosses:
1) her may mean “herself”; still may mean a distillation apparatus (an alembic); 2) it = this inspiration; his alludes to “my...muse” in 1, suggesting “my ship” and its “captain” while punning on “hiss”; Great Verse, playfully, is like the name of a vessel; 3) art means both “are” (v.) and “craft” (n.), linked to My...muse in 1 and art true in 9; 4) set me light suggests “throw me over,” “regard me lightly,” and “reveal me (in print)”; 5) fault, as a nautical pun, = salt and puns on “assault”; 7) birth is a nautical pun on berth; skill echoes art (3, 9); 10) will is a namepun on Will.

                         Rune 86

     (Second lines, Set VII: Sonnets 85-98)

     While comments of your praise, richly compiled,
     Bound for the prize of all-too-precious you,
     And, like enough, thou knowest thy estimate
 4  And place my merit in the eye of scorn;
     And I will comment úpon that offence
     Now while the world is bent my deeds to cross,
     Some in their wealth, some in their bodies’ force:
 8  
For term of life thou art assurèd mine,
     Like a deceivèd husband; so loves face
     That do not do the thing they most do show—
     Which like a canker. In the fragrant rose,
12 Some say, thy Grace is youth and gentle sport;
     From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year
     When proud, pied April dressed in all his trim.
__________
     Glosses:
2) Bound for = Aimed at (in the “bound” form of a book); 3) And (with And in 4) = Both (OED 1520, a Latinism); like = likely; 5) will is a namepun (see While in 1); And I will puns “Handy Will”; Q vpon plays on “weapon” (with offence) and may pun on “a pun” (OED 1662); 6) the line suggests, “People keep trying to find acrostics in my works (and get diverted doing so)”; 7) Some refers both to the world (i.e., people) and my deeds (see 6); 9) face (v.) = appear, dissemble, confront each other; 11) like (v.) = enjoy; fragrant rose suggests “beautiful art,” punning, “pungent rows [of text]”; 12) gentle sport is a “nautical” pun, “genitals’ port”; 13) From puns Fair Homme (like a ship’s name); and 14) Q pide (i.e., pied) = dappled.

                          Rune 87

      (Third lines, Set VII: Sonnets 85-98)

     Reserve their character with golden quill.
     That did my ripe thoughts in my brain inhearse.
     The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing;
 4  Upon thy side, against myself, I’ll fight:
     Speak of my lameness, and I straight will halt.
     Join with the spite of fortune, make me bow,
     Some in their garments, though new-fangled. Ill,
 8  And life no longer, then thy love will stay.
     May still seem low to me (though altered new)
     Who moving others are themselves as stone:
     Doth spot the beauty of thy budding name
12 Both grace and faults, are loved of more and less.
     What freezings have I felt, what dark day’s seen,
     Hath put a spirit of youth in everything.
__________
     Glosses:
1) their = my...thoughts’... (see 2); Reserve their character puns “Reserve th’ r character...,” alluding to the “missing r” in cha ter (3) as the word appears in most extant copies of Q; 2) inhearse = repeat internally, bury; 3) Q cha ter puns on “chatter” (see 1); 5) lameness suggests bad (metrical) feet; halt = stop, limp; 7) Some = some of my thoughts (see 1-2); 8) And puns on Anne; will stay puns on “Will S. t’ eye” (see 5, etc.); 9) low to me (Q loue...) puns on “low tome”; 12) more and less puns “Moor and lass,” suggesting Othello and Desdemona; 13) day’s seen = day has seen (pun: dais [i.e., stage] scene); 14) Hath put a spirit puns “Hath. puta spurt,” “...is pirate,” “...aspired,” etc., with a spirit a nameplay on “I, ...speare,” “a ‘...speare’ eyed”; Hath pu... puns on “Hath-th [= p = archaic thorn, th]-V,” i.e., Hathaway, linked with the pun “A. ...speare,” suggesting Anne Shakespeare.

                          Rune 88

      (Fourth lines, Set VII: Sonnets 85-98)

     And, precious phrase (by all the muses filed,
     Making their tomb the womb wherein they grew),
     My bonds in thee are all determinate
 4  
And prove thee virtuous (though thou art forsworn),
     Against thy reasons making no defense.
     And do not drop in for an after-loss
     Some in their hawks and hounds, some in their horse—
 8  
For it depends upon that love of thine,
     Thy looks with me, thy heart in other place,
     Unmovèd, cold, and to temptation slow.
     O, in what sweets dost thou thy sins enclose!
12 
Thou mak’st faults graces that to thee resort:
     What? Old December’s bareness everywhere?
     That heavy Saturn laughed, and leapt with him!
__________
     Glosses: 1) ...phrase = the “sweet name” of the auditor (pun: Anne); 2) tomb puns on “tome”; 3) bonds = restrictions, covenants; 4) forsworn = perjured, repudiated; 6-7) the subject of do not drop in is Some; 8) it = the “after-loss” (see 6), suggesting a reception after a defeat; 14) Saturn is stereotypically sluggish.


                         Rune 89

     (Fifth lines, Set VII: Sonnets 85-98)

     I think good thoughts, whilst other write good words;
     Was it his spirit, by spirits taught to write?
     For how do I hold thee but by thy granting,
 4  With mine own weakness being best acquainted?
     Thou canst not, love, disgrace me half so ill;
     Ah, do not, when my heart hath ’scaped this sorrow,
     And every humor hath his adjunct pleasure.
 8  Then need I not to fear the worst of wrongs,
     For there can live no hatred in thine eye;
     They rightly do inherit heaven’s graces.
     That tongue that tells the story of thy days
12 
As on the finger of a thronèd queen—
     And yet this time removed—was summer’s time,
     Yet nor the lays of birds nor the sweet smell.
__________
     Glosses: 1) I... other suggests the “two poets” of Q, authors of Sonnets and Runes; 2) it (ambig.) = the “other,” punning “oather” (i.e., sworn coterie member); 3) For puns on “Fore”; 6) heart puns on “art”; 7) humor suggests mood, whim, temperament; 9-10) the disagreement in number between thine eye and They finds a playful explanation in Q’s tediously routine pun “They/Th’ eye,” and in the fuller one “They rightly do…” = “Th’ eye, rightly deux [i.e., ‘two’]...”; Q’s spelling their (for “there”) in 9 puns on “th’ heir” and thus anticipates “inherit” in 10; 12) thronèd queen puns on “th’ runèd queue-end” (i.e.,“...line-end”); 14) nor...nor = neither...nor; lays puns on lace; birds puns on “Bard S.”
 
                        Rune 90

     (Sixth lines, Set VII: Sonnets 85-98)

     And, like unlettered clerk, still cry Amen!
     Above a mortal pitch that struck me dead;
     And for that riches, where is my deserving?
 4  Upon thy part I can set down a story
     To set a form upon desirèd change,
     Come in the rearward of a conquered woe,
     Wherein it finds a joy above the rest:
 8  When in the least of them my life hath end,
     Therefore—in that I cannot know thy change
     And husband nature’s riches from expense—
     Making lascivious comments on thy sport,
12 
The basest jewel will be well esteemed
     The teeming autumn, big with rich increase
     Of different flowers in odor and in hue.
__________
     Glosses: 1) And like... puns “Anne,...,” “Anne-like, unlettered...”; 3) riches (ironic) is a key theme word; 3-4) puns: “Anne farted richest wares amid a serving,” “...here is (...Harry’s) Midas rune (Jew pun, t’ help art...)” etc.; 6) Come in the rearward... suggests a sexual posture (and anal sex); 10) husband (v.) = control wisely, ration; 12) will puns on Will; 14) flowers puns on “flow-ers” (things that emit liquid) and is an eyepun on “slurs.”

                         Rune 91

     (Seventh lines, Set VII: Sonnets 85-98)

     To every hymn that able spirit affords
     No, neither he, nor his compeers by night,
     The cause of this. Fair gift in me is wanting,
 4  Of faults concealed, wherein I am attainted
     As I’ll myself disgrace. Knowing thy Will,
     Give not a windy night a rainy morrow.
     But these particulars are not my measure;
 8  I see a better state to me belongs
     In many’s looks. The false hearts’ history—
     They are the lords and owners of their faces—
     Cannot dispraise but in a kind of praise.
12 So are those errors that in thee are seen.
     Bearing the wanton burthen of the prime
     Could make me any summer’s story tell.
__________
     Glosses: 1) To every hymn that... (Q Himne t...) puns “To eerie [i.e., timid] Hamnet...,” the poet’s dead son; spirit = the poet’s muse, with a namepun on “...speare”; 2) he, nor his puns on “Henry’s” (suggesting Southampton); 3) cause of = reason for; wanting (v. or sb.) = lack, desire; 6) night puns on knight (see 2); 7) these particulars may point to the buried namepuns in 4-6; measure puns on meter, verse; 8) state may be prescient as a printing term (OED 1874); to me puns on tome; 10) They = False hearts (see 9); 12) errors echoes faults in 4; 13) burthen (i.e., burden, bass line) and prime (refrain, theme) are musical terms; 13 (the line number) is a prime number; 14) Could puns on Cold; summer (i.e., one who adds) suggests “adder,” a “number’s man” or metricist; tell suggests tally, add up.

                         Rune 92

     (Eighth lines, Set VII: Sonnets 85-98)

     In polished form of well-refinèd pen
     Giving him aid, my verse astonishèd;
     And so my patent back again is swerving
 4  
That thou, in losing me, shall win much glory.
     I will acquaintance strangle and look strange
     To linger out a purposed overthrow.
     All these I better in one general best;
 8  Then that which on thy humor doth depend
     Is writ in moods and frowns and wrinkles strange—
     Others, but stewards of their excellence,
     Naming thy name. Blesses an ill report
12 To truths translated and for true things deemed
     Like widowed wombs: After their lords’ decease
     Or from their proud lap, pluck them where they grew.
__________
      Glosses:
1) line pun: “In th’ [p = thorn, th] hole I shit forms well-refined, thin”; 2) him aid puns on hymn..., Hamnet, Hamlet; 3) patent = claim on this (runic) method; 4) shall suggests S[ue] Hall, Will’s daughter, with the line suggesting her marriage or Will’s death; 4) pun: John [= in], loving my S. Hall 5) I will...and puns,“I, Will, a ‘quaint’ Anne see...Anne”; 6) ...d overthrow puns “dour th’ row,” i.e., “the verse line is gloomy” (because it has no bad jokes?); 7) phallic puns include “Awl,” “‘I’ bitter,” etc.; 8) puns include Thin, witch hunt, high humor, and “merd [excrement]...deepened”; 9) frowns and wrinkles strange puns on “S-rowns and tricks...”; 10) Others puns on “Oathers” (i.e., sworn coterie members); 11) report is the subject of Blesses (v. intr.); 12) true things suggests plumb, erect penises; 14) puns include Ore, Whore, and “prow’d” (i.e.,sporting a frontal projection).



                         Rune 93

     (Ninth lines, Set VII: Sonnets 85-98)

     Hearing you praised, I say, “’Tis so, ’tis true!”
     He—nor that affable familiar ghost—
     Thyself thou gav’st, thy own worth then not knowing,
 4  
And I by this, Will, be a gainer too.
     Be absent from thy walks and in my tongue;
     If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last.
     Thy love is bitter, then high birth, to me:
 8  
Thou canst not vex me with inconstant mind.
     But heaven in thy creation did decree,
     “The summer’s flower is to the summer sweet.”
     Oh, what a mansion have those vices got!
12 How many lambs might the stern wolf betray,
     Yet this abundant issue seemed to me,
     Nor did I wonder at the lily’s white.
__________
     Glosses: 2) nor = not; 10) puns: summer = “adder,” “numbers man,” metricist; flower = flow-er, inker, writer; 11) mansion suggests a handsome facade; 12) How many = Whatever number of; lambs puns on “iambus” (an iamb); 13) this = this slaughter; abundant issue reiterates high birth in 7; seemed to me puns, “seamèd [i.e., sewn, having hidden veins] tome.”

                         Rune 94

     (Tenth lines, Set VII: Sonnets 85-98)

     And to the most of praise add something more
     Which nightly gulls him with intelligence,
     Or me, to whom thou gav’st it, else mistaking
 4  For bending all my loving thoughts on thee.
     Thy sweet belovèd name no more shall dwell—
     When other petty griefs have done their spite—
     Richer than wealth, prouder than garments’ cost.
 8  Sense that my life on thy revolt doth lie,
     That in thy face sweet love should ever dwell,
     Though to itself it only live and die.
     Which for their habitation chose out thee,
12 If like a lamb he could his looks translate
     (But hope of orphans, and unfathered fruit),
      Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose!
__________
     Glosses: 1) something more puns, “something ‘moor [i.e., dark]’,” e.g., this poem, the runic cycle; 2) gulls = dupes, gorges, pierces; him may point to praise in 1, suggesting hymn; 3) it = something more in 1, intelligence in 2; else mistaking = otherwise erring; 5) puns: Moor, “know morsel’d [ink]well”; 8) revolt = radical change, turnaround (echoing bending in 4); 9) sweet...dwell echoes sweet..dwell in 5; 11) Which for their habitation... = Whoever for his focus..., with their pointing to his looks in 12; 12) If...translate = If only...; 14) pun: rows (i.e., verses), with the line suggests rubrication in a ms. (see 2) and playing on Southampton’s family name, Wriothesley (pron. approx. “Rose-ley”).

                         Rune 95

     (Eleventh lines, Set VII: Sonnets 85-98)

     But that is in my thought whose love to you
     As victors of my silence cannot boast;
     So thy great gift, upon misprision, growing
 4
  The injuries that to myself I do,
     Lest I, too much profane, should do it wrong.
     But in the onset come, so stall I taste;
     Of more delight then hawks or horses be.
 8  O, what a happy title do I find,
     Whate’er thy thoughts or thy heart’s workings be.
     But if that flower with base infection meet,
     Where beauty’s veil doth cover every blot
12 
How many gazers mightst thou lead away!
     For summer and his pleasures wait on thee;
     They wear but sweet, but figures of delight.
__________
     Glosses: 1) But that is = Only those things that are; 3) misprision = error, scorn, undervaluation, punning on “ms.-prison”; 5) Lest puns on “leaf’t,” i.e., folded or imprinted on pages; profane: (Q proface, suggesting “prophesy”); 6) stall I taste = “I inhibit choice,” with the bawdy pun “Come up front, so I taste a stall”; 7) then puns on “than”; 9) heart’s puns on art’s, “hard’s”; 10) that flower = your heart (with a pun on blood flow?); 13) summer (Q Sommer) puns on the poet, an “adder,” a “number’s man”or metricist.

                         Rune 96

     (Twelfth lines, Set VII: Sonnets 85-98)

     Though Words come hindmost, holds his rank before:
     “I-was-not-sick-of-any-fear” from thence
     Comes home again, on better judgment making
 4  Doing the vantage double. Vantage me
     And haply of our old acquaintance tell:
     “At first, the very worst of fortune’s might…,
     And, having thee, of all men’s pride, I boast,
 8  ‘Happy to have thy love, happy to die!’”
     Thy looks should nothing thence but sweetness tell:
     The basest weed outbraves his dignity
     And all things turns to fair that eyes can see,
12 
If thou wouldst, use the strength of all thy state—
     And, thou away, the very birds are mute,
     Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.
__________
     Glosses: 1) Words = a braggart soldier, miles gloriosus, a traditional type ; 3) on better judgment = after reconsideration; 4) Doing the vantage double = Making (past) action a double asset; 5) haply = by chance; 9) thence echoes 2, with the same ambiguity; 13) And thou away plays on Anne Hathaway, with thou away an anagram for hat-ou-way.

                         Rune 97

     (Thirteenth lines, Set VII: Sonnets 85-98)

     Then others, for the breath of words, respect
     But when your countenance filed up his line;
     Thus have I had thee as a dream doth flatter.
 4  Such is my love, to thee I so belong,
     For thee, against myself, I’ll vow debate
     And other strains of woe which now seem woe,
     Wretchèd in this, alone, that thou mayst take
 8  But what’s so blessèd fair that fears no blot.
     How like Eve’s apple doth thy beauty grow!
     For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds.
     Take heed, dear heart, of this large privilege—
12 
But do not so, I love thee in such sort!
     Or, if they sing, ’tis with so dull a cheer,
     Yet seemed it winter still, and you away.
__________
     Glosses: 1) others puns on “oathers,” sworn coterie members; 2) But = Only; his points back to the breath of words (or of Words, the braggart soldier of Rune 96); 5) vow = commit myself to; 6) strains is a musical pun; 7) mayst take puns on “mistake”; 8) But = Only; 13) they, punning th’ eye, points to sweetest things in 10 and to words in 1 (suggesting “poems”).

                         Rune 98

     (Fourteenth lines, Set VII: Sonnets 85-98)

     Me for my dumb thoughts speaking in effect,
     Then lacked I matter, that enfeebled mine—
     In sleep a king, but waking, no such matter;
 4  That, for thy right, myself will bare all wrong,
     For I must near love him whom thou dost hate
     Compared. With loss of thee, will not seem so
     All this away, and me most wretchèd make?
 8 Thou mayst be false, and yet I know it not
     If thy sweet virtue answer. Not thy show
     Lilies that fester, smell—far worse than weeds.
     The hardest knife, ill used, doth lose his edge;
12 As thou being mine, mine is thy good report
     That leaves. Look pale, dreading the winters near,
     As with your shadow I with these did play.
__________
     Glosses: 1) in effect is an eyepun in Q on insect, “in a sect”; 2) mine puns on mind, “m’ Anne”; 4) That = Matter (see 3); for thy right = given your merit; will suggests Will; 5-6) him.../ Compared = the auditor himself; will is another namepun; 7) and...make puns “Anne, m’ most wretched make [i.e., mate]”; 9) Not thy show puns “Knotty (Naughty) show”; 11) his edge puns “high sedge” (see weeds in 10); 12) mine puns on “a source of riches” and, again, on “m’ Anne” (see 2); 13) leaves (v.) is a paradoxical pun, roughly, “disappears after being set down on pages”; Look = Countenance; 14) these = these poems, including the ones that have “left” a reader’s field of vision.
 
       
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Set VIII: Runes 99A/99B-112A/112B

—Notes on Set VIII and its Unique Features in the Q Scheme—

          Numerologically important (in much the same way the year 1999 was) and emphatically positioned (like an emphatic larger letter signaling a new text), Sonnet 99 startles “like toothy lark at break of day arising” because it has 15 lines, not 14. Unlike other playful quirks in the formal mechanics of Q—odd metrical lengths, irregular rhyme schemes, or airy parenthetical lines—the “extra line” in Sonnet 99 is a serious aberration in Q’s mathematical architecture, one that stops reconstruction of the Runes cold until a player can “solve” the “problem” it generates.
          As any peer might have done in Will’s own day, I myself came upon this quirky challenge after I was well into the game. (Who first goes through a book and counts lines?) At that point the neat structural scheme I’d detected in Q seemed to crumple, flawed by one pesky extra line. What could be “done” with it? If one line should be discounted in the recomposition process, which one was “extra”? The rhyme scheme of 99 (ababa…) and the preface-like “feel” of Sonnet 99.1 both made the first line seem extraneous, but a more natural inclination was to lop off the extra line at the bottom—given our fondness for ABC order, our urge to “even the tops” of texts on the page, and our tendency to read “down” and not skip anything.
          As usual in Q’s forking-paths game, trial and error provided a way to proceed, and one option does not block the other: The “extra” authorized line is fully functional, a teasing challenge that curbs peer cockiness, shows oneupmanship, complicates the wit and “increase” of the game, and even punctuates the structure of Q with a showy climax in Set VIII to precede Q’s denouement in Sets IX-XI. In an already bifurcated cycle where Sonnets overlay Runes and vice versa, the 15-line text bedazzles by triggering a subsidiary division, two whole subsets of texts—A and B variants—in the set it headlines. (Hence the set title, Will’s own phrase.) Though the A and B sets are almost alike, the aegis-like position of the switchable line tends to send any given text off on its own tangent—so tenuous are the associative nuances in any runic linestring. (Imagine two identical paragraphs of obtuse prose with differently worded topic sentences.)
          Practically, a recompositor must in two separate stages ignore both Sonnet 99.1 and Sonnet 99.15. Ignoring line 15, the almost automatic choice, allows the subset of A texts to emerge. Ignoring line 1, thus letting the second line of Sonnet 99 function in the recomposition process as its first, produces the B texts. One can visualize this two-step process by imagining that in the first case the tops of Sonnets 99 and 100 are level on the Q leaf—leaving 99.15 dangling at the bottom without any succession of siblings; by shifting the text of Sonnet 99 up one line to create new horizontal alignments, each one of the lines 2-14 in Sonnet 99 gains a new string of successive siblings, with line 99.1 orphaned and (for the duration) non-functional at the top. Cultivated puns, especially in Sonnet 99.1 and 99.15, originally helped reveal such a solution to the Runemaster’s witty challenge. These puns include the play “The ‘forward violate’ [i.e., ‘disruptive preface’] thus did “[No.] IC [i.e., Roman numeral 99] hide” (99.1) and the lament about “looking for more ‘flowers’ [cf. lines of flowing ink]” and “seeing none” there (in 99.15). The latter is exactly what one senses upon reaching line 15 and not observing any righthand companions for it. Other puns elsewhere in the set reinforced my deductions—e.g., “that thou fore-jettest so long” (Sonnet 100.1); “three themes in one” (Sonnet 105.12); the pun on “A/Bism” (Sonnet 112.9); and the acrostic wit about A/B in Rune 110A. The meanings that emerge in the dual sets of recompositions are, of course, the real proof; the punning details are merely breadcrumbs dropped in the night forest for disoriented players to try to follow.
          Typically in Q, where all dualities are coeval, neither set of variants takes precedence, despite our inclination to read the A variants as primary, the B’s as afterthoughts. Admittedly, the emphatic first-line capitals in Q do seem to favor the A-form recomposition of Rune 99—which begins with glaring caps—over its B twin, which opens unemphatically. Nothing substantive, however, indicates that A-texts are better than B’s; in some cases, the quality of the latter seems superior.
In a small dilemma that mirrors all the larger ones, a first editor of the Runes faces choices about what to keep, value, and discount in Q’s myriad possibilities. Two perfectly parallel treatments of A’s and B’s would generate repetition, while postscript treatment of the B texts might closet and demean them forever. My compromise has been to give the B texts an abbreviated presentation that still respects their viability. By considering each edited rune in turn and focusing on what’s different in it from its A counterpart, the variants in the B subset can be heard, and readers can judge them. Obfuscated by this approach are puns in the opening line (as it merges with the second) and acrostic wit in the B codelines, which vary from the A forms by one letter.
          Read for “serious” meaning, Set VIII persists with familiar topics: The poet’s role and flaws, his isolation from and on-going dedication to the muse, the difficulty of finding new conceits, the friend’s mixed nature, Will’s vacillation between optimism and melancholy. Motives in the Runes of the set, triggered by some individually cohesive topics in Sonnets 99-112, include flowers (cf. Sonnet 99), figures from romance (see Sonnet 106), and the unspecified personal scandal that is the topic in the set’s “couplet” texts, Sonnets 111-112—and, e.g., in Rune 100. Much of the set feels teasingly personal in ways that do not seem directly to involve the Stratford family. Perhaps Southampton’s taint after the Essex rebellion—or some intense or misunderstood relationship between Will and Southy—is in the background. The notions of the muse’s absence and of the passage of three years (wee, e.g., Sonnet 104) are provocative but in themselves inconclusive. Will’s complaints about repetition (e.g. Sonnets 102-103) and “wasting time” (Sonnet 106) and such epithets as “wild music” (Sonnet 102.11), “profound abysm” (Sonnet 112.9), inventive change (see Sonnet 105.11), and jam-packed verses (see Sonnet 103.13) all gain new meaning with our expanded understanding of the 3-D quality of the Q enterprise.
          The phrase “another whited if-pair” (Sonnet 99.9) may point to ghostly, hypothetical pairs who occur in Q’s motific texture and wit: e.g., Sonnets/Runes, Hamnet/Judith, Adam/Eve, Tristan/Isolde, Will/Southy, Will/Anne, Sue/John Hall, granddaughter Bess/“th’ heir,” and so on.

Link with Set VIII:
Paste-ups, Edited Texts, Paraphrases, Comments


             
In the column below are the edited "A" Variants,
which use line 1 of Sonnet 99 (99.1) andignore line 15 (99.15)

In the column below are the edited "B" Variants,
which ignore line 1 of sonnet 99 (99.1) and use line 15 (99.15)


                         Rune 99A

     (First lines, Set VIII: Sonnets 99-112)

     The forward violet thus did I chide:
     “Where art thou, muse, that thou forget’st so long?
     O, truant muse, what shall be thy amends?”
 4  My love is strengthened, though more weak in seeming,
     Alack! What poverty my muse brings forth
     To me, fair friend, you never can be old.
     Let not my love be called idolatry
 8  When in the chronicle of wasted time—
     Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul.
     What’s in the brain that ink may character,
     O, never say that I was false of heart.
12 Alas, ’tis true I have gone here and there.
     O, for my sake do you with fortune chide?
     Your love and pity doth th’ impression fill.
__________
     Glosses: 5) Alack, an exclam. of regret or surprise, puns “A lack” (i.e., “Something’s missing”); 6) To me puns on Tome; be old / Let not puns, “...behold leaden ode...”; 7) idolatry puns on “idle” (see wasted time in 8); 10) What’s = Whatever is...; 12) with 5: Alack, Alas; 14) impression = perception, printed copy (as of this poem, of Q).

                            Rune 99B

   (Second line, Sonnet 99, and First lines, Sonnets 100-112)

     Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells?
     Where art thou, muse, that thou forget’st so long?
     O, truant muse, what shall be thy amends,
 4  My love is strengthened, though more weak in seeming,
     Alack! What poverty my muse brings forth
     To me, fair friend, you never can be old.
     Let not my love be called idolatry
 8  When in the chronicle of wasted time—
     Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul.
     What’s in the brain that ink may character,
     O, never say that I was false of heart.
12 Alas, ’tis true I have gone here and there.
     O, for my sake do you with fortune chide?
     Your love and pity doth th’ impression fill.
__________
     Glosses: 1) steal = obtain, hide; 3) what = whatever; 5) Alack, an exclam. of regret or surprise, puns “A lack” (i.e., “Something’s missing”); What = Whatever; 6) To me puns on Tome; be old / Let not puns, “...behold leaden ode...”; 7) idolatry puns on “idle” (see wasted time in 8); 10) What’s = Whatever is...; 12) with 5: Alack, Alas; 14) impression = perception, printed copy (as of this poem, of Q).

                           Rune 100A

      (Second lines, Set VIII: Sonnets 99-112)

     Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells—
     To speak of that which gives thee all thy might?
     For thy neglect of truth, in beauty died,
 4  I love not less, though less the show appear,
     That having such a scope to show her pride.
     For as you were when first your eye I eyed,
     Not, my beloved, as an idol show,
 8  I see descriptions of the fairest wights
     Of the wide world, dreaming on things to come
     Which hath not figured to thee, my true spirit.
     Though absence seemed my flame to qualify
12 
And made myself a motley to thee, view
     The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds
     Which “Vulgar Scandal” stamped upon my brow.
__________
     Glosses: 1) steal = obtain, hide; 3) died suggests “dyed”; 4) though...appear = though I see you seldom; 5) That suggests beauty, the show, the friend being addressed; 6) eye suggests a pun on phallic “I”; 7) idol (Q Idoll) puns on idle and “‘I’-doll/dull,” a phallic epithet (see 4); 8) I see puns on IC = 99, the number of the preceding rune; wights = creatures, suggesting the pun “wits”; 9) things to come is a phallic pun; 10) figured = added up, equaled (with innuendo about phallic measurement); 12) a motley = a fool in chequered dress; 13) goddess = Beauty (see 3), and thus the friend; punningly, also Anne (see And in 12); 12) pun: “Witch W. S.,” with Vu...S... suggesting W.S.


                             Rune 100B

(Third line, Sonnet 99, and Second lines, Sonnets 100-112)


     If not from my love’s breath, the purple pride—
     To speak of that which gives thee all thy might—
     For thy neglect, of truth, in beauty died;
 4
  I love not less (though less the show appear)
     That, having such a scope to show her pride
     Fore, as you were when first your “I” I eyed,
     Not, my beloved, as an idolo show.
 8  I see descriptions of the fairest wights
     Of the wide world, dreaming on things to come
     Which hath not figured to thee, my true spirit.
     Though absence seemed my flame to qualify
12 
And made myself a motley to thee, view
     The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds
     Which “Vulgar Scandal” stamped upon my brow!
__________
     Glosses: 1) purple pride is phallically suggestive; 2) To speak puns on “To his peak” (phallic); 3) For thy neglect puns, “Frothy (Forth, high...) ‘angle’ eased”; 4) though...appear = though I see you seldom; 5) That suggests the phallus; 6) Fore, as you were when puns on “Fore, azure wen...,” echoing purple pride in 1; 7) an idol puns on “...idle” (see 4) and “‘I’-doll”; 8) I see puns on IC = 99, the number of the preceding rune; wights = creatures, suggesting “wits”; 9) things to come = phalluses; 10) figured = added up, equaled (with innuendo about phallic measurement); true puns on “erect,” “right-angled”; spirit suggests ejaculated fluid and puns on “spurt” and “...speare”; 11) absence puns on absinthes (suggesting a bad taste); 12) a motley = a fool in chequered dress, linked with the pun “...aye motley, toothy”; 13) goddess = suggesting beauty (see 3), with phallic overtones; punningly, also Anne (see And in 12); 12) scandal puns on “ass-candle” and “assy handle,” a phallic conceit; brow puns on “burrow,” suggesting “crack,” asshole.


                         Rune 101A

     (Third lines, Set VIII: Sonnets 99-112)

     If not from my love’s breath, the purple pride
     Spend’st thou—thy fury—on some worthless song.
     Both truth and beauty on my love depends;
 4  That love is merchandised whose rich esteeming,
     The argument all bare, is of more worth,
     Such seems your beauty still, three winters cold.
     Since, all alike my songs and praises be,
 8  And beauty, making beautiful old rhyme,
     Can yet the lease of my true love control,
     What’s new to speak, what now to register.
     As easy might I from myself depart,
12 Gored mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear;
     That did not better for my life provide,
     For what care I, who calls me well or ill.
__________
     Glosses: 4) merchandised = openly traded; 7) my songs... contrasts with thy...song in 2; 9) lease is an eyepun on leaf (i.e., page); control is a routinely distracting pun on “cunt-roll”; 12) Gored = Cut like cloth; compare sold cheap with merchandised in 4; 13) That = “I who...” and/or “Shoddy methods” (see 11-12); 14) calls me well puns, “see Hall’s mule” and “see awls [phallic], m’ well [pudendal or anal]”; well or ill puns on “Will...” (see 11, which suggests mental illness) and on “Will, oral...”; line puns: e.g., “Foe rude, see a ruse...,” “Foe root see, a rosy awl, ass, my well oral.”

                            Rune 101B

 (Fourth line, Sonnet 99, and Third lines, Sonnets 100-112)

     Which on thy soft cheek for complexion dwells?
     Spend’st thou thy fury on some worthless song?
     Both truth and beauty on my love depends;
 4  That love is merchandised whose rich esteeming,
     The argument all bare, is of more worth,
     Such seems your beauty still, three winters cold.
     Since, all alike my songs and praises be,
 8  And beauty, making beautiful old rhyme,
     Can yet the lease of my true love control,
     What’s new to speak, what now to register.
     As easy might I from myself depart,
12 Gored mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear;
     That did not better for my life provide,
     For what care I, who calls me well or ill.
__________
     Glosses: 4) merchandised = openly traded; 7) my songs... contrasts with thy...song in 2; 9) lease is an eyepun on leaf (i.e., page); control is a routinely distracting pun on “cunt-roll”; 12) Gored = Cut like cloth; compare sold cheap with merchandised in 4; 13) That = “I who...” and/or “Shoddy methods” (see 11-12); 14) calls me well puns, “see Hall’s mule” and “see awls [phallic], m’ well [pudendal or anal]”; well or ill puns on “Will...” (see 11, which suggests mental illness) and on “Will, oral...”; line puns: e.g., “Foe rude, see a ruse...,” “Foe root see, a rosy awl, ass, my well oral.”
 
                         Rune 102A

      (Fourth lines, Set VIII: Sonnets 99-112)

     Which on thy soft cheek for complexion dwells,
     Dark’ning thy power to lend base subjects light,
     So dost thou too; and, therein dignified,
 4  The owner’s tongue doth publish everywhere.
     Then, when it hath, my added praise beside
     Have from the forests shook three summers’ pride—
     To one, of one, still such, and ever so,
 8  In praise—of ladies dead, and lovely knights
     Supposed, as forfeit, to a confined doom
     That may express my love, or thy dear merit,
     As from my soul, which in thy breast doth lie.
12 
Made old offenses of affections new,
     Then public means, which public manners breeds—
     So you o’er-green my bad, my good allow.
__________
     Glosses: 1) Which = Whatever; soft cheek suggesting a buttock, may pun on “gentle effrontery”; 2) lend...light puns, “clarify low topics, lighten them with wit”; 3) too = anyway, still; therein puns “the rune”; 4) owner’s, punning on onerous = recipient’s (ambig; see lend in 2); 6) Have...forests puns, “Half from thesaurus[es],” “...Thesaurus S.”; three...pride puns, “t’ hear a summer’s [i.e., adder’s = numbers man’s = metricist’s] period [= sentence]”; 9) forfeit... is a metrical pun—e.g., “S. [ass], four-feet[ed]”; 12) Made = Constructed, Fashioned as; 13) Then = Then made...; 14) So = Thus; o’er-green = overshadow, vitalize (with a full pun on “R. [i.e., Robert] Greene,” an infamous detractor of Shakespeare’s whose actions are underscored by the phrase old offences in 12); line 14 puns: “Sir/Sour Greene may be odd, my good Hall owe [i.e., ...admit, acknowledge],” “Sewer R. Greene may be a damn wicked [code: y (as Y) good] hollow [i.e., a sinkhole, cesspool].” (See note below, Rune 106.6.)

                              Rune 102B

(Fifth line, Sonnet 99, and Fourth lines, Sonnets 100-112)

     In my love’s veins thou hast too grossly died,
     Dark’ning thy power to lend base subjects light,
     So dost thou too; and, therein dignified,
 4  The owner’s tongue doth publish everywhere.
     Then, when it hath, my added praise beside
     Have from the forests shook three summers’ pride—
     To one, of one, still such, and ever so,
 8  In praise—of ladies dead, and lovely knights
     Supposed, as forfeit, to a confined doom
     That may express my love, or thy dear merit,
     As from my soul, which in thy breast doth lie.
12 
Made old offenses of affections new,
     Then public means, which public manners breeds—
     So you o’er-green my bad, my good allow.
__________
     Glosses: 1) grossly died puns on “...dyed,” anticipating Dark’ning (2), the pun “...man-arse be red ass”(13), and o’er-green (14); In my love's veins thou has too grossly died puns, e.g., “Enemy, low swines, thou hast took Wriothesley [pron. Roseley/Rizley, i.e., Southampton] deity (...dead)”; 2) lend...light puns, “clarify low topics, lighten them with wit”; 3) too = anyway, still; therein puns “the rune”; 4) owner’s, punning on onerous = recipient’s (ambig; see lend in 2); 6) Have...forests puns, “Half from thesaurus[es],” “...Thesaurus S.”; three...pride puns, “t’ hear a summer’s [i.e., adder’s = numbers man’s = metricist’s] period [= sentence]”; 9) forfeit... is a metrical pun—e.g., “S. [ass], four-feet[ed]”; 12) Made = Constructed, Fashioned as; 13) Then = Then made...; 14) So = Thus; o’er-green = overshadow, vitalize (with a full pun on “R. [i.e., Robert] Greene,” an infamous detractor of Shakespeare’s whose actions are underscored by the phrase old offences in 12); line 14 puns: “Sir/Sour Greene may be odd, my good Hall owe [i.e., ...admit, acknowledge],” “Sewer R. Greene may be a damn wicked [code: y (as Y) good] hollow [i.e., a sinkhole, cesspool].”

                       Rune 103A

     (Fifth lines, Set VIII: Sonnets 99-112)

     In my love’s veins thou hast too grossly died!
     Return, forgetful muse, and straight redeem!
     Make answer, muse! Wilt thou not haply say
 4  Our love was new, and then but in the spring?
     O, blame me not if I no more can write,
     “Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turned;
     Kind is my love today, tomorrow kind,
 8  Then….” In the blazon of sweet beauty’s best,
     The mortal moon hath her eclipse endured—
     Nothing, sweet boy, but yet, like prayers, divine.
     That is my home of love; if I have ranged,
12 Most true it is. That I have looked on, truth;
     Thence comes it that my name receives a brand.
     You are my all the world, and I must strive.
__________
     Glosses: 2) straight = at once (pun: strait [sb.] = confined situation); 3) haply = perchance; 5) puns: if I no more see Anne write; if I no More can write, referring to the still unpublished (and probably censored) play of Sir Thomas More; 8) blazon = vivid heraldic depiction; 9) mortal = dying, suggesting Diana; 10) boy suggests Cupid; 13) brand = searing mark (of infamy), toying with Will’s name component“...spear.”
 
                      Rune 103B

(Sixth line, Sonnet 99, and Fifth lines, Sonnets 100-112)

     The lily I condemnèd for thy hand;
     Return, forgetful muse, and straight redeem!
     Make answer, muse! Wilt thou not haply say
 4  Our love was new, and then but in the spring?
     O, blame me not if I no more can write,
     “Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turned;
     Kind is my love today, tomorrow kind,
 8  Then….” In the blazon of sweet beauty’s best,
     The mortal moon hath her eclipse endured—
     Nothing, sweet boy, but yet, like prayers, divine.
     That is my home of love; if I have ranged,
12 Most true it is. That I have looked on, truth;
     Thence comes it that my name receives a brand.
     You are my all the world, and I must strive.
__________
     Glosses: 2) straight redeem = claim [the lily] soon; 3) haply = perchance; 5) puns: if I no more see Anne write; if I no More can write, referring to the still unpublished (and probably censored) play of Sir Thomas More; 8) blazon = vivid heraldic depiction; 9) mortal = dying, suggesting Diana; 10) boy suggests Cupid; 13) brand = searing mark (of infamy), toying with Will’s name component“...spear.”


                      Rune 104A

     (Sixth lines, Set VIII: Sonnets 99-112)

     The lily I condemnèd for thy hand—
     In gentle numbers time so idly spent!
     Truth needs no color with his color fixed,
 4  When I was wont to greet it with my lace.
     Look in your glass, and there appears a face
     In process of the seasons have I seen,
     Still constant in a wondrous excellence
 8  Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow—
     And the sad augurs mock their own presage.
     I must each day say o’er the very same.
     Like him that travels, I return again,
12 Askance and strangely, but by all above;
     And, almost thence, my nature is subdued
     To know my shames and praises from your tongue.
__________
     Glosses: 2) numbers = metrics, verses; time plays on “rhythm”; 3) color puns on collar, choler (i.e., ire); 4) wont = accustomed; greet may mean assail (ME); lace (Q laies): also, lays, i.e., songs; 5) face = countenance (see 8); 6) In process puns “In th’ [p = th, archaic thorn] row [i.e., line or verse], see s’s”: the line has six of them; 6-7) Q’s seasons haue I seene / S... puns, “see Avon’s [long s = f eyepun] house, Annie S.”; 9) augurs = predictions; presage = prediction; 12) Askance = Obliquely; by all above suggests “transcendent, guided by heaven”; 13) subdued puns on “subdivided” (as Q is divided into Sonnets and Runes); 14) shames and praises are metaphoric epithets for Q’s Runes and Sonnets.


                       Rune 104B

(Seventh line, Sonnet 99, and Sixth lines, Sonnets 100-112)

     “And buds of marjoram had stol’n thy hair….”
     In gentle numbers time so idly spent!
     Truth needs no color with his color fixed,
 4  When I was wont to greet it with my lace.
     Look in your glass, and there appears a face
     In process of the seasons have I seen,
     Still constant in a wondrous excellence
 8  Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow—
     And the sad augurs mock their own presage.
     I must each day say o’er the very same.
     Like him that travels, I return again,
12 Askance and strangely, but by all above;
     And, almost thence, my nature is subdued
     To know my shames and praises from your tongue.
__________
     Glosses: 1) marjoram is an aromatic herb; 2) gentle puns on genital (and 1 may mean pubic hair); numbers = metrics, verses; time plays on “rhythm”; 3) color puns on collar, choler (i.e., ire); 4) wont = accustomed; greet may mean assail (ME); lace (Q laies): also, lays, i.e., songs; 5) face = countenance (see 8); 6) In process puns “In th’ [p = th, archaic thorn] row [i.e., line or verse], see s’s”: the line has six of them; 6-7) Q’s seasons haue I seene / S... puns, “see Avon’s [long s = f eyepun] house, Annie S.”; 9) augurs = predictions; presage = prediction; 12) Askance = Obliquely; by all above suggests “transcendent, guided by heaven”; 13) subdued puns on “subdivided” (as Q is divided into Sonnets and Runes); 14) shames and praises are metaphoric epithets for Q’s Runes and Sonnets.


                        Rune 105A

     (Seventh lines, Set VIII: Sonnets 99-112)

     “And buds of marjoram had stol’n thy hair”—
     Sing to the ear that, doth thy lays. Esteem
     Beauty no pencil, beauty’s truth to lay
 4  As Philomel in summer’s front doth sing.
     That overgoes my blunt invention quite,
     Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burned;
     Therefore my verse to constancy confined
 8  I see their antique pen would have expressed.
     Incertainties now crown themselves, assured;
     Counting no old thing old, thou mine, I thine,
     Just to the time, not with the time exchanged,
12 These blenches gave my heart another youth
     To what it works in—like the dyer’s hand,
     None else to me, nor I to none alive.
__________
     Glosses: 1) marjoram is an aromatic herb; 2) the line may be a consciously “bad” one (see the apology in 5); 3) lay = publish, praise (in a “lay” or song); 4) Philomel = the nightingale (poetic); 5) That = Such beauty or singing; 8) I see = ...that I recognize; their = thy lays’ (see l. 2), implying classical (i.e., antique) authors’; antique puns routinely in Q on antic; 11) Just = Appropriate; not...exchanged = not anachronistic or passé; 12) blenches = side-glances, tricks (see “blanches,” whitenings).

                        Rune 105B
(8th line, Sonnet 99, and 7th lines, Sonnets 100-112, Set VIII)

     The roses fearfully on thorns did stand,
     Sing to the ear that doth thy lays, “Esteem
     Beauty no pencil, beauty’s truth to lay
 4  As Philomel in summer’s front doth sing.”
     That overgoes my blunt invention quite,
     Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burned;
     Therefore my verse to constancy confined
 8  I see their antique pen would have expressed.
     Incertainties now crown themselves, assured;
     Counting no old thing old, thou mine, I thine,
     Just to the time, not with the time exchanged,
12 These blenches gave my heart another youth
     To what it works in—like the dyer’s hand,
     None else to me, nor I to none alive.
__________
     Glosses: 1-2) stand, / Sing = stand and sing...; 3) lay = publish, praise (in a “lay” or song); 4) Philomel = the nightingale (poetic); 5) That = Such beauty or singing; 8) I see = ...that I recognize; their = thy lays’ (see l. 2), implying classical (i.e., antique) authors’; antique puns routinely in Q on antic; 11) Just = Appropriate; not...exchanged = not anachronistic or passé; 12) blenches = side-glances, tricks (see “blanches,” whitenings).

                        Rune 106A

     (Eighth lines, Set VIII: Sonnets 99-112)      

     The Roses “fearfully on thorns did stand”—
     And gives thy pen both skill and argument;
     But Best is best if newer intermixed,
 4  And stops his pipe in growth of riper days.
     Dulling my lines, and doing me disgrace
     Since first I saw you fresh which yet are green,
     One thing expressing leaves out difference—
 8  Ev’n such a beauty as you master now—
     And Peace proclaims Olives of endless age
     Ev’n as when first I hallowed thy fair name,
     So that myself bring water for my stain,
12 And worse essays proved thee my best of love.
     Pity me then, and wish I were renewed,
     That my steeled censor changes right o’er wrong.
__________
     Glosses: 2) thy pen = your poet; thus, “...your poet affords both...”; 3) newer (Q neuer) = more originally, with a play on “never”; 3-4) Best... / stops his pipe = ...plays his instrument; 6) which yet are green puns “...witch yet, R. [i.e., Robert] Greene,” alluding to Shakespeare’s infamous detractor (see note to Rune 102.14); 7) ...leave out [i.e., “leafs out”] difference puns, paradoxically, “generates diversity (on ‘leaves,’ i.e., pages)”; 9) i.e., the topic elicits a predictable cliché; 12) worse contrasts with Best in 3; 14) censor (Q sense or); o’er (Q or).


                         Rune 106B

(Ninth line, Sonnet 99, and Eighth lines, Sonnets 100-112)

     Our blushing shame, another white despair,
     And gives thy pen both skill and argument;
     But Best is best if newer intermixed,
 4  And stops his pipe in growth of riper days.
     Dulling my lines, and doing me disgrace
     Since first I saw you fresh which yet are green,
     One thing expressing leaves out difference—
 8  Ev’n such a beauty as you master now—
     And Peace proclaims Olives of endless age
     Ev’n as when first I hallowed thy fair name,
     So that myself bring water for my stain,
12 And worse essays proved thee my best of love.
     Pity me then, and wish I were renewed,
     That my steeled censor changes right o’er wrong.
__________
     Glosses: 1) white dispair = ghostly pallor, empty sheet, erasure; 2) And puns ironically and sarcastically on “Anne [Will’s wife]”; thy pen = your poet; thus, “...your poet affords both...”; 3) newer (Q neuer) = more originally, with a play on “never”; 3-4) Best... / stops his pipe = ...plays his instrument; 6) which yet are green puns “...witch yet, R. [i.e., Robert] Greene,” alluding to Shakespeare’s infamous detractor (see note to Rune 102.14); 7) ...leave out [i.e., “leafs out”] difference puns, paradoxically, “generates diversity (on ‘leaves,’ i.e., pages)”; 9) i.e., the topic elicits a predictable cliché; 12) worse contrasts with Best in 3; 14) censor (Q sense or); o’er (Q or).
 
                        Rune 107A

     (Ninth lines, Set VIII: Sonnets 99-112)

     Our blushing shame, another white despair!
     Rise, resty muse, my love’s sweet face survey:
     Because he needs no praise, wilt thou be dumb?
 4  Not that the summer is less pleasant now.
     Were it not sinful, then, striving to mend?
     “Ah, yet doth beauty like a dial hand,
     Fair, kind, and true,” is all my argument;
 8  So, all their praises are but prophesies.
     Now, with the drops of this most balmy time
     So, that eternal love. In love’s fresh case,
     Never believe (though in my nature reigned
12 Now) all is done. Have what shall have no end,
     Whilst like a willing patient I will drink:
     In so profound abysm I throw all care.
__________
     Glosses: 1) white dispair = ghostly pallor, empty page; 4) Not...: (also Note...); 5) to mend = improve (...his face, my poems), change; 6) doth = does, acts (like); 7) ..is all puns “...eye S. Hall...,” “...is Hall...,” pointing to Will’s daughter and son-in-law, Sue (Susanna) and Dr. John Hall; 8) their = belonging to the positive attributes named in 7; So, all their puns “Sue Hall, th’ heir”; 9) this...time = summer (see 4); 10) So puns on Sue; that eternal love (imper.) = love what is eternal; 11-12) in my nature reigned / Now = the Present dominated my life; shall have no end puns “S. Hall heaven owned”; 13) nameplays include “Will Shakespeare [st = the Shakespeare name cipher, an S “shaking” a pictographic, spear-like t],” with puns in “Will-ing,” “Will”; 14) so puns on Sue (see 8, 10); all puns on Hall (see 7, 8, 12); all care puns “ulcer,” a gesture to Dr. Hall, a physician—and also a biblical allusion (see St. John 5:1-18).
 
                       Rune 107B

(Tenth line, Sonnet 99, and Ninth lines, Sonnets 100-112)

     A third, nor red nor white, had stol’n of both:
     Rise, resty muse, my love’s sweet face survey.
     Because he needs no praise, wilt thou be dumb?
 4  Not that the summer is less pleasant now.
     Were it not sinful, then, striving to mend?
     “Ah, yet doth beauty like a dial hand,
     Fair, kind, and true,” is all my argument;
 8  So, all their praises are but prophesies.
     Now, with the drops of this most balmy time
     So, that eternal love. In love’s fresh case,
     Never believe (though in my nature reigned
12 Now) all is done. Have what shall have no end,
     Whilst like a willing patient I will drink:
     In so profound abysm I throw all care.
__________
     Glosses: 1) third puns on “turd”; had puns on “head” (see face in 2); 4) Not...: (also Note...); 5) to mend = improve (...his face, my poems), change; 6) doth = does, acts (like); 7) ..is all puns “...eye S. Hall...,” “...is Hall...,” pointing to Will’s daughter and son-in-law, Sue (Susanna) and Dr. John Hall; 8) their = belonging to the positive attributes named in 7; So, all their puns “Sue Hall, th’ heir”; 9) this...time = summer (see 4); 10) So puns on Sue; that eternal love (imper.) = love what is eternal; 11-12) in my nature reigned / Now = the Present dominated my life; shall have no end puns “S. Hall heaven owned”; 13) nameplays include “Will Shakespeare [st = the Shakespeare name cipher, an S “shaking” a pictographic, spear-like t],” with puns in “Will-ing,” “Will”; 14) so puns on Sue (see 8, 10); all puns on Hall (see 7, 8, 12); all care puns “ulcer,” a gesture to Dr. Hall, a physician—and also a biblical allusion (see St. John 5:1-18).


                        Rune 108A

     (Tenth lines, Set VIII: Sonnets 99-112)

     A third, nor red nor white, had stol’n of both;
     If time have any wrinkle graven there,
     Excuse not silence so, for’t lies in thee.
 4  Then when her mournful hymns did hush the night
     To mar the subject that before was well,
     Steal from his figure, and no pace perceived,
     “Fair, kind, and true”—varying to other words—
 8  Of this our time, all you prefiguring.
     My love looks fresh, and death to me subscribes.
     Weighs not the dust and injury of age,
     All frailties that besiege all kinds of blood,
12 Mine appetite. I never more will grind
     Potions of eisell ’gainst my strong infection
     Of others’ voices that my adders sense.
__________
     Glosses: 1) A third (ambig.) implies Lips, A face, and puns “a turd”; 2) time puns on meter and on Tommy (Thorpe), Will’s printing agent; wrinkle puns on “mouth-slit,” “trick”; 3) Excuse = Pardon, Emit; for’t puns on “fart”; 4) her (ironic) = silence’s (see 3); 5) To puns on “Two (lips)”; 6) his puns on “hiss”; pace puns on “peace” (L.), paths; 7) to puns on two; 8) time = our era, meter (see note, 2); 9) to me subscribes = ...yields, with the puns “tome ‘shows writing below [the surface]’” and “Tommy yields to me”; 10) Weighs not the dust puns, “Weigh snot [‘Waste not’] adduced”; 11-12) blood / Mine puns, “be loo dim” (unconfirmed by OED), “be lewd hymn”; 13) eisell = vinegar; 14) others’ puns on “oathers’,” i.e., in-groupers sworn to secrecy; my adders (fig.) = writhing, snakelike lines, “added” incrementally; sense (v.) = detect.

                           Rune 108B

(Eleventh line, Sonnet 99, and Tenth lines, Sonnets 100-112)

     And, too, his robb’ry had annexed thy breath,
     If time have any wrinkle graven there.
     Excuse not silence so, for’t lies in thee.
 4  Then when her mournful hymns did hush the night
     To mar the subject that before was well,
     Steal from his figure, and no pace perceived,
     “Fair, kind, and true”—varying to other words—
 8  Of this our time, all you prefiguring.
     My love looks fresh, and death to me subscribes.
     Weighs not the dust and injury of age,
     All frailties that besiege all kinds of blood,
12 Mine appetite. I never more will grind
     Potions of eisell ’gainst my strong infection
     Of others’ voices that my adders sense.
__________
     Glosses: 1) his = time’s (see 2); the line puns, “And [line] 2 is Row B, wry, odd, annexed hybrid”; 2) time puns on meter and on Tommy (Thorpe), Will’s printing agent; wrinkle puns on “mouth-slit,” “trick”; 3) Excuse = Pardon, Emit; for’t puns on “fart”; 4) her (ironic) = silence’s (see 3); 5) To puns on “Two (lips)”; 6) his puns on “hiss”; pace puns on “peace” (L.), paths; 7) to puns on two; 8) time = our era, meter (see note, 2); 9) to me subscribes = ...yields, with the puns “tome ‘shows writing below [the surface]’” and “Tommy yields to me”; 10) Weighs not the dust puns, “Weigh snot [‘Waste not’] adduced”; 11-12) blood / Mine puns, “be loo dim” (unconfirmed by OED), “be lewd hymn”; 13) eisell = vinegar; 14) others’ puns on “oathers’,” i.e., in-groupers sworn to secrecy; my adders (fig.) = writhing, snakelike lines, “added” incrementally; sense (v.) = detect.

                         Rune 109A

     (Eleventh lines, Set VIII: Sonnets 99-112)

     And, too, his robb’ry had annexed thy breath:
     If any be a satire to Decay
     To make him much outlive a gilded tomb,
 4  But that—wild music—burthens every bow;
     For to no other pass my verses tend,
     So your sweet hue which methinks still doth stand—
     And in this change is my invention spent.
 8  And fore, they looked but with divining eyes;
     Since, spite of him ill live. In this, poor rhyme
     Nor gives to necessary wrinkles place,
     That it could so preposterously be stained
12 On newer proof. To try an older friend,
     No bitterness that I will bitter think
     To critic and to flatt’rer stoppèd are.
__________
     Glosses: 1-2) And puns on Anne and any, on Annie; his = Decay’s; 3) puns: To, Two; him, hymn, “Ham[net?]”; tomb, tome; 4) burthens = burdens; 6) So your sweet puns, “sour, sweet” and “Sour Swede,” a likely epithet for Thomas Thorpe, Will’s printing agent; ”So puns on “Sue,” Will’s daughter; ...methinks = I now contemplate, with the pun “witch meetings”; 7) this change: Q shows grotesquely altered letters (see 11-12); 8) fore = before (my friend lived); 10) Nor give = Does not give; 12) proof = printer’s trial copy; try = separate out, distinguish; to try puns on tawdry; 14) stoppéd are = is piped, is played; stopped suggests withheld (as the Runes are in Q).

                          Rune 109B

(Twelfth line, Sonnet 99, and Eleventh lines, Sonnets 100-112)

     But for his theft in pride of all his growth,
     If any be a satire to decay
     To make him much outlive a gilded tomb,
 4  But that—wild music—burthens every bow;
     For to no other pass my verses tend,
     So your sweet hue which methinks still doth stand—
     And in this change is my invention spent.
 8  And fore, they looked but with divining eyes;
     Since, spite of him ill live. In this, poor rhyme
     Nor gives to necessary wrinkles place,
     That it could so preposterously be stained
12 On newer proof. To try an older friend,
     No bitterness that I will bitter think
     To critic and to flatt’rer stoppèd are.
__________
     Glosses: 1) But for his... = Just because of the friend’s, or of decay’s... (see 2); 3) puns: To, Two; him, hymn, “Ham[net?]”; tomb, tome; 4) burthens = burdens; 6) So your sweet puns, “sour, sweet” and “Sour Swede,” a likely epithet for Thomas Thorpe, Will’s printing agent; ”So puns on “Sue,” Will’s daughter; ...methinks = I now contemplate, with the pun “witch meetings”; 7) this change: Q shows grotesquely altered letters (see 11-12); 8) fore = before (my friend lived); 10) Nor give = Does not give; 12) proof = printer’s trial copy; try = separate out, distinguish; to try puns on tawdry; 14) stoppéd are = is piped, is played; stopped suggests withheld (as the Runes are in Q).


                      Rune 110A

     (Twelfth lines, Set VIII: Sonnets 99-112)

     But for his theft, in pride of all his growth
     And make, time’s spoil’s despisèd everywhere;
     And two be praised of ages yet to be,
 4  And sweet’s grown common. Loose their dear delight,
     Then of your graces and your gifts to tell
     Hath motion, and (mine eye may be deceived),
     Three themes in one, which wondrous scope affords,
 8  They had not still enough your worth to sing!
     While he insults o’er-dull and speechless tribes
     But makes antiquity for aye his page,
     To leave for nothing all thy sum of good
12 (A God in love, to whom I am confined)—
     Nor, double penance, to correct correction—
     Mark how with my neglect I do dispense.
__________
     Glosses: 1) But = Only, If only; 2) make = style, form (ME); 3) two suggests you and I, composition sets, eyes,A & B variants, etc.; 4) their points to two (in 3, 5); 5) graces...gifts: the doublet underscores two in 3; 6) Hath...eye puns, “Hath-motion [with motion suggesting ‘moving away’], Anne, dim Annie...”; 7) Three escalates two (in 3); themes puns on Thames, which, on witch; Three themes points to the three And’s (= Anne’s) that are initial in 2-4; 8) They puns on “Th’ eye”; 9) While he puns on Willy...; he = mine eye (see 6); 10) for puns on four (see two, three, earlier); aye puns on eye (see 6, 9); page = leaf, servant; 11) To puns on “Two (sets of poems)”; leave puns on leaf, page; 12) A God suggests (paradoxically) The Trinity (see Three themes in one in 7); 13) double penance, to puns on “double writing [with penance a play on pen], two [i.e., eyes]...”; 14) do puns on deux [Fr. two], pointing to Sonnets and Runes and to A & B variants in Set VIII; I do dispense puns, “I do Dis- [i.e., hellish] pen see.”

                 Rune 110B

(Thirteenth line, Sonnet 99, and Twelfth lines, Sonnets 100-112)

     A vengeful canker eat him up to death
     And make time’s spoils despisèd everywhere,
     And to be praised of ages yet to be,
 4  And sweets grown common, loose their dear delights—
     Then, of your graces and your gifts to tell
     Hath motion, and (mine eye may be deceived),
     Three themes in one, which wondrous scope affords,
 8  They had not still enough your worth to sing!
     While he insults o’er-dull and speechless tribes
     But makes antiquity for aye his page,
     To leave for nothing all thy sum of good
12 (A God in love, to whom I am confined)—
     Nor, double penance, to correct correction—
     Mark how with my neglect I do dispense.
__________
     Glosses: 1) him = time (see 2); 2) spoils = ravages; time’s spoils puns, “meter’s leftovers”; 3) to: the pun two suggests duplicity, A & B variants, etc.; 4) their points to two (in 3, 5); 5) graces...gifts: the doublet underscores two in 3; 6) Hath...eye puns, “Hath-motion [with motion suggesting ‘moving away’], Anne, dim Annie...”; 7) Three escalates two (in 3); themes puns on Thames, which, on witch; Three themes points to the three And’s (= Anne’s) that are initial in 2-4; 8) They puns on “Th’ eye”; 9) While he puns on Willy...; he = mine eye (see 6); 10) for puns on four (see two, three, earlier); aye puns on eye (see 6, 9); page = leaf, servant; 11) To puns on “Two (sets of poems)”; leave puns on leaf, page; 12) A God suggests (paradoxically) The Trinity (see Three themes in one in 7); 13) double penance, to puns on “double writing [with penance a play on pen], two [i.e., eyes]...”; 14) do puns on deux [Fr. two], pointing to Sonnets and Runes and to A & B variants in Set VIII; I do dispense puns, “I do Dis- [i.e., hellish] pen see.”


                        Rune 111A

     (Thirteenth lines, Set VIII: Sonnets 99-112)

     A vengeful canker eat him up to death?
     Give my love fame faster then! Time wastes life!
     Then do thy office, muse! I teach thee how.
 4  Therefore like her I sometime hold my tongue,
     And more, much more, then, in my verse can sit—
     For fear of which, hear this, thou age unbred:
     Fair, kind, and true have often lived alone
 8  For we which now behold these present days,
     And thou in this shalt find thy monument,
     Finding the first conceit of love there bred.
     For nothing this wide universe I call.
12Then give me welcome, next my heaven the best,
     Pity me then, dear friend, and I assure ye
     You are soo strongly in my purpose bred.
__________
     Glosses: 1) him = my love (see 2), punning on hymn, i.e., poem; 4) her = (my) muse (see 3); 6) which = excessive silence (see 4) or complexity (see 5); For fear of which... puns, “Force ear [pudendal] of witch,” “sorcerer...”; 9) this = this poem, the list of virtues in 7; line 9 is a phallic pun; 10) conceit = concept, figure; bred echoes unbred in 6 and anticipates bred in 14; 11) nothing is a routine pudendal pun, with I call punning “I see (icy...) awl” (phallic, with I a pictographic phallus); 11-12) puns: e.g., “For(e) no-thing t’ hiss, white (...wide), un-averse (...unawares), I see ‘awl’ thin, gummy, welcome (...will come)... ”; 14) so = also, thus, equally; bred (see 6, 10), which puns on bared and buried, underscores the copulative humor in the text.


                         Rune 111B

(Fourteenth line, Sonnet 99, and Thirteenth lines, Sonnets 100-112)

     More flowers I noted, yet I none could see
     Give my love fame. Faster than time wastes life
     Then, do thy office, muse! I teach thee how;
 4  Therefore like her I sometime hold my tongue,
     And more, much more, then, in my verse can sit—
     For fear of which, hear this, thou age unbred:
     Fair, kind, and true have often lived alone
 8  For we which now behold these present days,
     And thou in this shalt find thy monument,
     Finding the first conceit of love there bred.
     For nothing this wide universe I call.
12 Then give me welcome, next my heaven the best,
     Pity me then, dear friend, and I assure ye
     You are soo strongly in my purpose bred.
__________
     Glosses: 1) flowers puns on “flow-ers,” flowing verse lines (with bawdy innuendo), slurs, penises, drinkers; 4) her = [my] muse (see 3); like her puns on “liquor”; 6) which = excessive silence (see 4) or complexity (see 5); For fear of which... puns, “Force ear [pudendal] of witch,” “sorcerer...”; 9) this = this poem, the list of virtues in 7; line 9 is a phallic pun; 10) conceit = concept, figure; bred echoes unbred in 6 and anticipates bred in 14; 11) nothing is a routine pudendal pun, with I call punning “I see (icy...) awl” (phallic, with I a pictographic phallus); 11-12) puns: e.g., “For(e) no-thing t’ hiss, white (...wide), un-averse (...unawares), I see ‘awl’ thin, gummy, welcome (...will come)... ”; 14) so = also, thus, equally; bred (see 6, 10), which puns on bared and buried, underscores the copulative humor in the text.

                          Rune 112A

     (Fourteenth lines, Set VIII: Sonnets 99-112)

     More flowers I noted, yet I none could see;
     So thou prevent’st his scythe and crookèd knife,
     To make him seem long hence, as he shows now.
 4  Because I would not dull you with my song,
     Your own glass shows you, when you look in it,
     Ere you were born was beauty’s summer dead,
     Which (three till now) never kept seat in one!
 8  Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise?
     When tyrants’ crests and tombs of brass are spent,
     Where time and outward form would show it dead,
     Save thou my rose! In it thou art my all,
12 Even to thy pure and most, most loving breast;
     Even that, your pity, is enough to cure me
     That all the world (besides me) thinks, “Y’are dead.”
__________
     Glosses: 1) More flowers puns on “Moor flow-ers,” i.e., flowing, inky lines, etc., with phallic innuendo; 2) his = time’s (implied by the metaphor); 3) him = time (punning on hymn, Ham[net]), with phallic innuendo in long; 4) dull echoes knife in 2; 7) three: i.e., three summer months; kept seat = resided; 7-8) seat in one / Have eyes... puns, e.g., “Satan, one-half aye is to wander...”; 8) the line, alternately, is a directive to the reader; 11) rose = “my rows” of text, these verses—echoing flowers in 1 and punning on “ruse”; Save thou my rose puns on “Southam[pton]” and “Wriothes[ley]”( roughly pron. “Rose-ley”), names of Will’s only known patron, Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton; 14) me thinks y’ are dead puns, “meta-ink sordid,” etc., with the endword dead reiterating those in 6, 10.

                          Rune 112B

(Fifteenth line, Sonnet 99, and Fourteenth lines, Sonnets 100-112)

     But sweet or color, it had stol’n from thee,
     So thou prevent’st his scythe and crookèd knife
     To make him seem long hence, as he shows now.
 4  Because I would not dull you with my song,
     Your own glass shows you, when you look in it,
     Ere you were born was beauty’s summer dead,
     Which (three till now) never kept seat in one!
 8  Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise?
     When tyrants’ crests and tombs of brass are spent,
     Where time and outward form would show it dead,
     Save thou my rose! In it thou art my all,
12 Even to thy pure and most, most loving breast;
     Even that, your pity, is enough to cure me
     That all the world (besides me) thinks, “Y’are dead.”
__________
     Glosses: 1) But = Mere; it had stol’n from = had it left; 2) his = time’s [implied by the metaphor]; 3) his = time’s (implied by the metaphor); 3) him = time (punning on hymn, Ham[net]), with phallic innuendo in long; 4) dull echoes knife in 2; 7) three: i.e., three summer months; kept seat = resided; 7-8) seat in one / Have eyes... puns, e.g., “Satan, one-half aye is to wander...”; 8) the line, alternately, is a directive to the reader; 11) rose = “my rows” of text, these verses—echoing flowers in 1 and punning on “ruse”; Save thou my rose puns on “Southam[pton]” and “Wriothes[ley]”( roughly pron. “Rose-ley”), names of Will’s only known patron, Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton; 14) me thinks y’ are dead puns, “meta-ink sordid,” etc., with the endword dead reiterating those in 6, 10.
 
       
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Set IX: Runes 113-126

—Notes on Set IX—

          Unaware of Q’s runic game, Sonnets editors have mostly ignored the “empty couplet” lines in Sonnet 126 as meaningless, unauthorized printer’s “filler.” In truth, these “quietuses two” (Sonnet 126.12) work as real lines and house complex sense and wit. In Runes 125 and 126 the lines have separate jobs, while on the leaf and in Sonnet 126 they work together.
          Interlinked are famous lines from Q’s “misnumbered” Sonnet 116 that, disparately, accrue new runic meanings. The pun “Let me knot two, the marriage of true minds”—housing “mirage” and the play “theme airy eye, a jest t’ rue, my ends”—alludes not only to all the linked Sonnets and Runes but specifically to the “knotty two” lines that close the set. Sonnet 116’s own coy close, “If this be error…,” comments both on Will (and Thomas Thorpe)’s “misnumbering” of 116 as 119 and on these two “missing” lines, which will punningly calls “Quietuses two” that “render thee” (Sonnet 126.12). Now, when Will tells us to “admit impediments,” (Sonnet 119.2), we concede Q’s stumblingblocks but don’t “alter” our affections upon finding the alterations (suggesting “adorations”).
          In a minimal sense, the “bending sickles” of Sonnet 116 also designate the two up-coming sets of italicized parentheses that we see in Sonnet 126, so that the “rosy lips and cheeks” that those parentheses house are pictographically one of the poet’s referents in Sonnet 116.9. These “rendered” parentheses, reasonably accurate as lips, also form a visual pun on fat buttocks, “cheeks” cut in two or “rendered,” with the broadened pictograph (    )(    ) implicit. The pun “Butt, bare side out (Butt bare sight out), even to the edge of doom” (Sonnet 116.12) has these paired “cheeks” in mind, “rendered.” The pictograph, further, may show a belted fat middle; a vacuous person; paired gums for chewing; a crowned head; dovelike whiteness; and the “zero” lurking in “Crow” (see “Crow or Dove” in Sonnet 113.12, initial in the set). Concurrently these marginalized airy spaces are the “edge of doom” that Will mentions at Sonnet 116.12, “rendering” the empty Unknowns that at bottom await us all and that will “render” humankind: The top one stands for heaven, the nether one for hell. As two “knotted” items, the empty-line pair also show us “the marriage of jesty rumens” (cf. Sonnet 116.1). The joke is Will’s, the stomach knots ours.
          The “renderings” probably refer also to Southampton’s moustache, also “cheeks” in one sense, though “proving” this is a complex, cumulative deduction. Briefly, in Rune 126, “em-peached” (13) links with the pun “Two [empty lines] give full growth to that which still doth grow” (3). Other puns (e.g., those in Rune 126.5-6) also point to an in-group joke about whether Southy had looked better moustached or clean-shaven. John Sanford’s Latin poem (1592) had praised Southy’s beauty “although his mouth scarcely yet blooms with tender down” (qtd. Akrigg 36).
          More broadly, the final formal “Audite” in Set IX echoes and complements the initial aberration in Set VIII. As paired “mysteries,” these last two lines also point forward as analogues that epitomize the upcoming Perverse Mistress sets (X, XI)—sets that provide a “couplet” close to the entire Q scheme, just as these two empty lines help round off Set IX. The MegaSonnets' couplet is ironically vertical, not horizontal, as Q’s organization scheme helps us visualize. Link: How Will Wrote the Runes.
          The epithet “quietuses two” also describes the blank corners of each folio leaf, providing a corroborating clue about arrangement of materials on the spreads. The joke in “rendering” suggests that one might doodle in these “quietuses.” The pun “…tore end earthy” (Rune 126.14) means “bawdy, separated toward the bottom.” In this set, Will’s “birds”—his “Crow and Dove”— soar higher, in the equivalent of the heavens, by coming early in the set, and also atop Rune 124.
Maybe the two empty page corners gave Will the idea of letting two “nothings,” two aberrant “perverse mysteries,” gain significance in his large plan. In the broadest sense, the “Quietuses” that still “render”—that “show,” “divide,” and torture like a rack—are the Runes themselves.
          Representative of other minimal wit in Set IX are the odd double T’s and commas in Rune 113.10—where redundancies point to Thomas Thorpe, the printer (and signer of the dedication) whose complicity was required to see that Will’s minimal authorizations were honored through the printing state rather than being “corrected” and edited out. Similarly eye-catching is the gappy pictographic spacing at Sonnet 120.6, encoding the pun “As I bare ass , ye have pastel of Tommy.” The italicized-word string also exemplifies a likely game element (cf. p. ).
          In new conceits, diverse materials in the set reiterate familiar themes that include vision, heart vs. mind, separation, suffering, faithfulness, apologies for Q and pride in it, the muse as ideal paragon and as Captain Ill—as Winner and Waster.

Link with Set IX:
Paste-ups, Edited Texts, Paraphrases, Comments

             

                          Rune 113

     (First lines, Set IX: Sonnets 113-126)

     Since I left you, mine eye is in my mind—
     Or whether doth my mind. Being crowned with you,
     Those lines that I before have writ do lie,
 4  Let me not to the marriage of true minds.
     Accuse me thus: That I have scanted all,
     Like as to make our appetites more keen.
     What potions have I drunk of siren tears,
 8  That you were once unkind befriends me, now
     ’Tis better to be. Vial then vile esteemed,
     Thy gift, thy tables are within my brain.
     No! Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change!
12 If my dear love were but the Child of State,
     Were’t aught to me I bore the canopy?
     Owe thou, my lovely boy, who in thy power.
__________
     Glosses: 1) puns: phallic “I,” m’ Annie; 2) whether doth my mind = whatever my mind does, whatever my thoughts; 3) Those lines...writ = lines 1 and 2 here, and/or all earlier lines in Q; 3-4) one sense is that the poet’s earlier verses are impediments that keep him from “marrying true minds”; 5) all puns on “[Dr. John] Hall,” the poet’s son-in-law, and on “awl” (phallic); 7) What = Whatever; siren tears “whet appetities” (see 6); 9) better puns on bitter, and then, on thin; 10) tables = banquets, columns of verse texts; 11) change is a monetary pun; 13) aught (Q ought) also denotes ought, suggesting duty, owed, and “O” (see 14); Owe (Q shows O); the line suggests, “You own [i.e., control, acknowledge]...those in your power.”

                           Rune 114

     (Second lines, Set IX: Sonnets 113-126)

     And that which governs me to go about
     Drink up—the monarch’s plague, this flattery!
     Even those that said I could not love you dearer
 4  Admit impediments: Love is not love
     Wherein I should your great deserts repay.
     With eager compounds we our palate urge,
     Distilled from limbecks foul as hell within,
 8  And for that, sorrow which I then did feel.
     When not to be receives reproach of being,
     Full-charactered with lasting memory
     Thy pyramid’s built up with newer might.
12 
It might, for fortune’s bastard, be unfathered.
     With my extern the outward honoring
     Dost hold time’s fickle glass, his sickle hour.
__________
     Glosses: 2) this flattery = this flattering poem; 3) those = poems that flatter the friend; 5) deserts = virtues, punning paradoxically on “desertions” and “sandy wastes” (see pyramids in 11); 6) compounds alludes to the interlocked Sonnets/Runes; 7) limbecks = alembics (i.e., distillation devices); 11) newer might puns on “newborn mite/midget” (see bastard in 12); 12) for = as, in order to be or become; 13) extern and outward (ambig.) suggest the visible Sonnets, the absent friend, and/or a trip to him; 13-14) pun: “...honoring, / dusty holed, Tommy’s sickly lass, his sickly whore”; 14) hold = hold back, contain; time’s suggests “meter’s”; hour suggests “hourglass” and “‘mirror-image’ texts.”

                         Rune 115

     (Third lines, Set IX: Sonnets 113-126)

     Doth part his function, and is partly blind:
     Or, whether shall I say mine eye saith true?
     Yet then my judgment knew no reason why
 4  Which alters when it alteration finds
     Forgot upon your dearest love to call
     As to prevent our maladies unseen.
     Applying fears to hopes, and hopes to fears,
 8  Needs must I under my transgression bow—
     And the “just pleasure” lost (which is so deemed)
     Which shall above that idle rank remain.
     To me are nothing novel, nothing strange,
12 As subject to time’s love or to time’s hate
     O’erlaid. Great bases for eternity
     Who hast by waning grown, and therein show’st?
__________
     Glosses: 1) part suggests partly (adv.), body part (n.), depart (v.); his anticipates mine eye in 2; 3) Yet then = Even then, Yet still; 4) Which = That which, suggesting mine eye; 5-6) pun: “To see [Dr. John] Hall, aye, is to prevent...maladies...”; 9) just = suitable, mere; 9-10)..lost .which is so deemed /... puns, “lost, witchy Sodom eyed,” “witch is sodomied,” “...witch is so deemed, / witch...”; 10) idle rank = mere pleasure; rank remain puns,“ranker [our anchor] m’ Anne”; 11) To me puns, “two me,” clarifying are; to me are nothing puns, “tome, airy (...a wry) nothing”; 12) to time’s puns, “two times,” suggesting the “double metrics” of Sonnets/Runes;

                                 Rune 116

     (Fourth lines, Set IX: Sonnets 113-126)

     Seems seeing, but effectually is out,
     And that your love taught it; this alchemy,
     My most full flame, should afterwards burn clearer,
 4  Or bends with the remover to remove
     Whereto all bonds do tie me day by day.
     We sicken to shun sickness when we purge,
      Still losing, when I saw myself to win:
 8  Unless my nerves were brass or hammered steel
     (Not by our feeling but by others’ seeing)
      Beyond all date, ev’n to eternity,
     They are but dressings of a former sight—
12 Weeds among weeds, or flow’rs with flowers gathered;
     Which proves more short, then, waste or ruining—
      Thy lover’s withering—as thy sweet self grow’st.
__________
     Glosses: 1) Seems seeing = Seeing seems (i.e., Vision is ostensible); but puns on “butt”; pun: “...butt sexually I sought,” “Seams seeing, butt—ass, actually—I sought”; 3) My...flame = My eye, inspiration, passion; 4) Or bends puns, “Orb ends”; the remover = the one who is absent; 5) the line suggests, “To where the beloved is”; 7) pun: “Still loving wen [i.e., a swelling], I foamy ass love to win (...loaf twin)”; 9) others’ seeing = later readers’ recognition, with a pun on “oathers” as oath-bound coterie members; 11) They = my nerves (see 8) or feelings (see 8, 9), punning, “Th’ eye”; 13) Which = This chance for enduring fame; ruining puns on “runing,” i.e., writing runes.

                         Rune 117

     (Fifth lines, Set IX: Sonnets 113-126)

     For it no form delivers to the heart
     To make of monsters and things indigest—
     But reckoning time, who’s millioned accidents;
 4  O no, it is an ever-fixèd mark
     That I have frequent been with unknown minds.
     Ev’n so, being full of your near-cloying sweetness,
     What wretched errors hath my heart committed!
 8  For if you were by my unkindness shaken
     Fore, why should others? False, adulterate eyes,
     O’er at the least, so long as brain and heart,
     Our dates are brief, and therefore we admire.
12 No, it was builded far from accident.
     Have I not seen dwellers on form and favor
     (If Nature sovereign) mysteries over-wrack?
__________
     Glosses: 1) For it puns, “Fart,” “If art...,”; heart puns on art; 3) But = Merely; reckoning = marking, plodding through serially; 6) ...sweetness echoes things indigest in 2; 8) unkindness echoes monsters (2), things “of another kind”; 9) others puns on “oathers,” i.e., coterie members; 10) brain and heart echo minds (5), heart (1, 7); 11) dates echoes time in 3; admire = marvel, astonish; 12) No, it echoes it in 1 and O no, it in 4; builded reinforces make in 2 and dwellers in 13; it in 12, implying the entire Quarto structure, also points back to my unkindness in 8; 13) form (echoing 1) and favor suggest external appearance (shape) and positive recognition; 14) over-wrack = overthrow, torture excessively, wreck (see shaken in 8, contrast builded in 12); compare “wreak” (give vent to).

                         Rune 118

     (Sixth lines, Set IX: Sonnets 113-126)

     Of bird, of flower, or shape which it doth lack—
     Such cherubins as your sweet self resemble
     Creep in ’twixt vows, and change decrees of kings;
 4  That looks on tempests and is never shaken
     And given to time. Your own dear-purchased right,
     To bitter sauces did I frame my feeding,
     Whilst it hath thought itself so blessed never.
 8  As I buy yours, y’ have passed a hell of time!
     Give salutation to my sportive blood;
     Have faculty by nature to subsist.
     What thou dost foist upon us that is old,
12 It suffers not in smiling pomp, nor falls.
     Lose all and more by paying too much rent,
     As thou goest onwards still, will pluck thee back.
__________
     Glosses: 1) it = your...self (see 2); 2) cherubin = cherubs, second-order angels; 4) That = Your...self (see 1, 2); 5) right puns on rite (see vows in 3) and write; 6) puns: “Two...aye...”; frame = adjust (OED 1550); 7) it = your...self (1, 2, 4) and, ironically my feeding in 6; 8) buy reinforces give, purchased (5), Give (9), Lose (13); 10) subsist = preserve (your) existence; 11) is old puns, “...I sold,” echoing the economic diction elsewhere; 12) It = Yourself (see 1, 2, 4, 7), with phallic innuendo; 13) all is the phallic pun “awl”; 12-13) ...paying too much rent, / As puns, e.g., “Tom [Thorpe] huge, rent [i.e., torn] ass...,” “Low sale and more, by paying Thomas, herein ‘T/As Tho., you..., Jew...’”; 14) goest puns on “ghost”; still will puns on“ steel will,” i.e., iron resolution, with plays on Will, we’ll, weal, well; pluck playfully points to bird (1), food (see 6), and sport (see 9).

                         Rune 119

     (Seventh lines, Set IX: Sonnets 113-126)

     Of his quick objects hath the mind no part,
     Creating every bad a perfect best.
     Tan, sacred beauty, blunt the sharp’st intents.
 4  It is the star to every wand’ring bark
     That I have hoisted—sail to all the winds—
     And, sick of welfare, found a kind of meetness.
     How have mine eyes out of their spheres been fitted,
 8  And I, a tyrant, have no leisure taken!
     O’er on my frailties why are frailer spies,
     Till each to razed oblivion yield his part
     And rather make them bourn to our desire
12 Under the blow of thrallèd discontent?
     For compound sweet, forgoing simple favor,
     She keeps thee to this purpose, that her skill.
__________
     Glosses: 1) his (ambig.) = the mind’s (suggesting the friend’s, poet’s, bad’s [see 2], beauty’s [see 3]); 2) best puns on beast; 3) Tan...beauty = The poet’s parchment (a phallic conceit), with Tan an adj. or imper. verb; 5) all: phallic pun, “awl”; 6) welfare, found puns, “Will S., I resound”; meetness: phallic pun, “meat[i]ness,” “meat-in-ass”; 7) spheres: another namepun (compare “...speare-S,” reversing “S-speare”); been fitted puns on “benefitted”; 9) O’er on puns on Oar, Orion, “‘O’-rune”; 10) part suggests body part, eye, phallic “I”; 11) them = my frailties (see 9); bourn = a destination, landing place; compound sweet suggests Sonnets/Runes, this couplet, my eyes, testicles; 14) She = beauty (see 3); this purpose echoes objects (1), intents (3), desire (11).

                         Rune 120

     (Eighth lines, Set IX: Sonnets 113-126)

     Nor his own vision holds what it doth catch:
     As fast as objects to his beams assemble,
     Divert strong minds to th’ course of altering things
 4  Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
     Which should transport me farthest from your sight:
     To be diseased ere that there was true needing
      In the distraction of this madding fever?
 8  To weigh how once I suffered in your crime?
     Which in their wills count bad what I think good
     Of thee, thy record never can be missed.
     Then think that we before have heard them told
12 Whereto th’ inviting time our fashion calls:
     Pitiful thrivers, in their gazing spent,
     May time disgrace, and wretched minute kill!
__________
     Glosses: 1) Nor puns on Inner,“In whore,” “An oar,” and (in reverse) “rune”; his suggests a strong mind (see 3); 3) course puns on corse (i.e., corpse); 4) his suggests mind (and thus, rational man), course (3), with phallic innuendo in height; 7) madding = maddening, raving; 9) Which = Whoever; wills... = determinations, punning on “Will S.,” Count Bad; 10) missed (Q mist), with the visual equivalent f = long s, puns on misty (i.e., obscure), “ms.’d” (i.e., written down), “my fit [i.e., stanza],”and “me, Shakespeare [st = the family name cipher]”; 11) them = those who judge (see 9-10).

                         Rune 121

     (Ninth lines, Set IX: Sonnets 113-126)

     For if it see the rud’st or gentlest sight,
     O, ’tis the first, ’tis flatt’ry in my seeing!
     Alas, why fearing of time’s tyranny?
 4  Love’s not time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
     Book both my willfulness and errors down,
     Thus policy in love t’ anticipate.
     O, benefit of ill, now I find true,
 8  O, that our night of woe might have rememb’red!
      No, I am that I am, and they that level
     That poor retention could not so much hold,
     Thy registers and thee, I both defy!
12 It fears not policy, that heretic!
     No, let me be obsequious in thy heart,
     Yet fear her, O thou minion of her pleasure.
__________
     Glosses: 1) it = my seeing (2); 5) errors puns on eros,“E-rows” (i.e., 5th lines of verses, as this one is); “E-row down” might be a clue to check the 5th vertical row out in the alphabetic grid of the poem; 6) policy = an artful, pragmatic strategy (see 12); 8) might... rememb’red = might have reconstituted itself, been patched together; 9) No, I am puns on Gnome (i.e., Proverb, Saying); No, I am t... puns, “Know [No] Ham[n?]et,” “...Ham[l?]et”; level = charge, accuse; 11) registers = written records, catalogs; 12) It = retention, registers (10-11) = (by metonymy) Will or his poems; 13) obsequious = dutiful, fawning; 14) fear her “O” is pudendal misogyny; her O puns on hero; minion = darling, favorite.


                         Rune 122

     (Tenth lines, Set IX: Sonnets 113-126)

     The most sweet favor or deformed’st creature,
     And my great mind most kingly drinks it up!
     Might I not then say now I love you best
 4  Within his bending sickle’s compass? Come,
     And, on just proof, surmise. Accumulate
     The ills that were not, grew to faults—assured
     That better is by evil still made better.
 8  (My deepest sense, how hard true sorrow hits!)
      At my abuses, reckon up their own.
      Nor need I tallies thy dear love to score,
      Not wondering at the present, nor the past,
12 Which works on leases of short numbered hours;
     And, take thou my oblation poor but free,
     She may detain but not still keep her treasure.
__________
     Glosses: 3) best puns on beast; 4) his = my...mind’s (see 2); bending sickle’s compass suggests Round, i.e., Rune; 8) how hard may be a topical pun on Howard; 9) their (ambig.) points to ills (6), creatures (see 1); their own puns on “the (thy) rown (...round, rune)”; 10) Nor need I tallies puns, “Nor needed Alice/...allies” (with Nor reversing to a pun on rune); 13) oblation = offering (compare present, a pun in 11); 14) She = thy...love (10), but, as an incipient form of the Dark Lady (who dominates Sets X and XI) pointing to punning forms of Alice (10), Witch (12), and Anne (13).


                         Rune 123

     (Eleventh lines, Set IX: Sonnets 113-126)

     The mountain or the sea, the day or night—
     Mine eye well knows what with his gust is greeing
     When I was certain o’er incertainty:
 4  Love alters not. With his brief, hours and weeks
     Bring me within the level of your frown
     And (brought to medicine) a healthful state.
     And ruined love, when it is built anew
 8  And soon to you (as you to me) then tendered,
     I may be straight though they themselves be bevel.
     Therefore, to give them from me was I bold.
     For thy recórds, and what we see, doth lie;
12 But all alone stands hugely politic
     Which is not mixed with seconds, knows no art:
     Her audit, though delayed, answered must be.
__________
     Glosses: 2) gust is greeing = …taste is agreeing; 8) tendered = offered, acted more tenderly; 9) themselves points back to various skewed, crooked, slanted, or sloped items—e.g., mountain (1) and the angled hours on a sundial (4), but these “bevel” things are also the Runes, which the poet has “boldly” discarded (see10), instances of “runèd love” that may be “built anew” (see 7);10) to give them from me = to rid myself of (these “bevel” items); 11) thy records = the facts of your life, these poems; 12) politic = skillfully contrived; 13) seconds suggests “inferiors” and “units of time”; 14) Her audit = Perfection’s (oral examination of accounts.


 


                         Rune 124

     (Twelfth lines, Set IX: Sonnets 113-126)

     The crow or dove, it shapes them to your feature
     And to his palate doth prepare the cup—
     Crowning the present, doubting of the rest—
 4  But bears it out, ev’n to the edge of doom.
     But shoot not at me in your wakened hate,
     Which, rank of goodness, would by ill be cured!
     Grows fairer than at first—more strong, far greater—
 8  The humble salve which wounded bosoms fits.
     By their rank thoughts my deeds must not be shown
     To trust those tables that receive thee more
     (Made more or less by thy continual haste,
12 That it nor grows with heat, nor drowns with showers)—
     But, mutual, render only “me for thee”;
     And her quietus is to render thee.
__________
     Glosses: 1) it suggests my eye or pen, this page (a slave, a bearer); 2) his = your feature’s; palate puns on Pilate (a biblical allusion); 7) Grows puns on “G-row is...,” i.e., “line or verse 7...” (as this one is); 8) salve puns on salve (L. salutation) and (as a close anagram) on slave (see 1-4); 10) tables suggests inscriptions, columns of verses; 10-11) thee more and more may pun on the unfinished play of T[homas] More that Will probably had a hand in writing; 11) Made more suggests Maid Moor, i.e., Dark Lady; 12) it = thy...haste (11), with That it punning, “The teat...”; 14) her points to thy...haste and to the pun “Maid Moor”; render thee = melt, produce, or represent you, with to punning on two (suggesting eyes, sonnet/rune, the two “missing couplet ” lines in Sonnet 126, etc.); quietus is to puns, “quietuses two,” alluding to the two “missing” lines in the visible Q text of Sonnet 126 and perhaps to the two upcoming sets, X and XI, presumably not yet written and thus still unspoken.

                         Rune 125

     (Thirteenth lines, Set IX: Sonnets 113-126)

     Incapable of more, replete, with you
     (If it be poisoned, ’tis the lesser sin)
     Love is a babe. Then might I not say so?
 4  If this be error, and upon me proved,
     Since my appeal says I did strive to prove
     But thence I learn and find the lesson true,
     So I return, rebuked, to my content,
 8  But that your trespass now becomes a fee.
     Unless this general evil they maintain
     To keep an adjunct to remember thee,
     This I do vow, and this shall ever be;
12 To this I witness call the fools of time:
     Hence, thou suborned informer, a true soul!
     (                                                                  )
__________
     Glosses: 2) it = Love, suggesting mother’s milk (see Love is a babe in 3); 3) then might puns, “thin mite, ...midget”; 7) content = subject matter, peaceful state, punning “cunt-end”; 8) trespass points to sin (2, 5), error (4), punning on “tress-paths”, hinting at a pubic route of access; fee (an eyepun on See, sea) = pay, bribe, estate; 9) they = people, those who see error (see 4), punning “th eye”; 10) adjunct (a grammatical term) = a qualifying description; 12) fools is an eyepun on souls; 13) suborned = bribed; soul is an eyepun on fool. The line links with the end parentheses (functioning as two lower-case l’s) to generate such a puns as this, aimed at Will’s only known patron, Henry Wriothesley (pron. approx.“Roseley,” “Rizley”): “Hence, thou suborned, infirm rat Wriothesley!” The pun “Red Roseley” suggests that references to roses and buds in Q had Henry Wriothesley at least partly in mind. The plays “Tommy, Hen. see...” (12-13) and “Hen., see Thos., a born ed[itor]...” (13) suggest that Thomas Thorpe, Will’s printing agent, is also in on the game here, at least in Will’s mind. The empty line in Rune 125 jokingly provides a place for foolish “witnesses” (see 12) to sign their names.

                         Rune 126

     (Fourteenth lines, Set IX: Sonnets 113-126)

     My most true mind thus maketh mine untrue,
     That mine eye loves it, and doth first begin
     To give full growth to that which still doth grow:
  4  
I never writ, nor no man ever loved
     The constancy and virtue of your love.
     Drugs poison him that so fell sick of you,
     And gain by ill’s thrice more; then I have spent
 8  Mine ransoms—yours—and yours must ransom me.
     All men are bad; and, in their badness, reign
     Were to import forgetfulness in me.
     I will be true despite thy scythe. And thee?
12 Which dye for goodness? Who half-lived for crime
     When most impeached stands least in thy control.
     (                                                                           )
__________
     Glosses: 1) mine = my (purely physical) mind (with a mind/mine pun, and with mine punning on m’ Anne, m’ Annie); 2) it suggests my...mind/mine, full growth (see 3); and puns on Anne; 4) loved (Q loued) puns on lowed (bellowed), allowed (admitted); 6) him puns on hymn; 7) gain by ill [i]s thrice more = gain is tripled by ill; 9) their puns on “th’ air”; reign = sway (of an abstract thing), punning on rain, “our Anne”; 11) I will puns, “I, Will,” etc., with nearby plays on Anne, Witch (11-12); 12) half-lived for crime puns “he slavèd for his rhyme,” “...force rhyme,” and “half-lewd sorcery hymn”; 13) stands leasts puns “Shakespeare [= st, the name cipher] end sliced” (alluding to the truncated end of Sonnet 126), and also on “... leased,” “...leafed”; 13-14) the pun in control on “cunt-roll” may be key to the pictographic last line, whose whiteness, a tabula rasa, may also be the “witch dye for goodness” (see 12). Perhaps the pictograph shows a “wen moist” (see 13), i.e., a damp swelling. One pun in 14 is “Wen moist, impeached, is t’ end: sliced end, thy cunt-roll.” This play suggests that Will may mean the pictograph to depict a pudendum, perhaps fat or gaping or sliced in half.
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