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

An Index to the Editorial Titles
O what a happy title do I find
(95.8)

             

 

          Though unauthorized, the supplied titles that I attribute to the Runes draw heavily on key phrases and memorable images that are Will’s own. In some cases, the titles point to focal subjects or themes in individual texts, but the eclectic, associative nature of the Runes doesn’t routinely allow easy reducibility. (Sonnets editor Stephen Booth notes the same “spin-off” tendencies in the Sonnets, where dominant figurative patterns often fail to subsume or unify diversely textured details.) Some of the titles are figurative epithets, some are composite phrases, many are puns. (The phallic wit in “Dreaming on Things to Come” is an instance of the last kind. Other instances of puns occur in “Who Will ‘Be-leave’ [i.e., paginate, publish] My Verse?” and “Three Themes in One, or Double ‘Pen-ance’ [i.e., use of the pen, and thus writing].”)

          Many titles here are Will’s own clandestine conceits for the runes collectively or singly; some are phrases that in various other ways show self-awareness of the very act of creating or uncovering duplicitous texts. I’ve picked the titles to capitalize on Q’s self-conscious tendency to discuss its own game, and I’ve phrased them with attention to meter, cadence, and of course brevity.

          While titling the Shakespearean Sonnets would surely seem a presumption, titling the somewhat more playful Runes—as one small part of an initial attempt to reconstruct and construe them—seems to me a less atrocious imposition. Not only “naming” the runes generically with figurative epithets but “titling” them individually may even be one of the game elements that Will imagined himself consciously triggering; in parallel fashion, he seems to toy with the idea of naming the sets. Plays such as the one in the line I choose in this link for an epigraph indicate to me that Will must have toyed with possible titles for the poems as he wrote them—likely for the Sonnets as well as the Runes.

          In any case, even Q’s overt texts (which we might conventionally call either “numbers” or “titles”) are untitled except numerically, following the convention of the sonnet cycle as it devolved from Petrarch. Such shaggy works as Q—or Emily Dickinson’s oeuvre—remind us how unhandy numeric titles are as handles that would ideally afford us firm grips on individual texts. In time, as the Runes become more familiar, the ascribed rubrics may in modest ways serve mnemonic purposes—just as some first lines already do for the Sonnets—and may help with identification of texts and references to them.

          First-line titles would of course be unsatisfactory because each line in the Runes has associations with some other text, a sonnet, and because some first-lines in the Runes are inextricably linked in our minds with individual texts that have long been visible in Q.

           Titles here that start with “A…” and “The…” are clustered—not alphabetized according to the first substantive word—because they seem likely to stick in the mind as whole phrases. The usage parallels the conventional pattern in first-line listings.

           A few of the titles below are themselves first lines or other full-line units. Occasionally a title repeats the heading that I’ve attributed to the set unit in which it occurs—just as the title poem in a volume of verses might. In the A and B variants of Set VIII, some titles get used twice; some A and B variants of the same number, however, seem to merit separate titles, since the difference of one (initial) line can set a given pair otherwise identical texts off on divergent topical tangents.

          I see it as a necessary gesture of modesty to link these fabricated titles not with the edited texts or with the raw assemblages of unedited lines but, rather, with the paraphrases, which are also blatantly interpretive. This procedure keeps the authorized line groups and the edited text that represent these groups a bit freer from intrusion and tampering than would be the case if I were to presume to ascribe my own, unauthorized titles to the poet’s self-crafted groupings. Editorial choices such as punctuations, of course, unavoidably impose interpretations on the poet’s intended meanings, but editorial titles would impose an even heavier load, one that might hinder a reader/player more than it would help.

          Anyone who is bothered by the presumption of these editorial titles can easily ignore them, with my blessing.

Editorial Set Names

I. Marriage and Increase
II. Your Painted Counterfeit
III. My Outcast State
IV. I See I Have Returned
V. Laboring for Invention
VI. When We Are Dead
VII. How Like a Winter
VIII. Three Themes in One
IX. Far from Accident
X. My Mistress’ Eyes
XI. My Mystery-Sighs



          A

               Rune number
A Beggar Born
58
Abundant Issue
93
A Couplement of Proud Compare
19
A Fall from Highmost Pitch
9
A Geography of the Heart
52
A Heart-Inflaming Brand
142
A Jewel Hung in Ghastly Night
25
Altering Things
120
A Madman’s Thoughts and Discourse
151
A Man I Knew Hangs in My Bosom’s Shop
21
An After-Loss
88
A Noted Weed of Mouthèd Graves
76
Another White Despair
106B
A Prisoner Pent in Walls of Glass
10
A Prize So Dear
56
A Sad Account
39
A Second Life on Second Head
63
A Seething Bath
147
A Separable Spite
34
A Sermon on Succession
12
A Several Plot
135

A Summer’s Song            

91
A Twofold Truth, This Cross
40
A Waste of Shame
127
A Wondrous Excellence
104A, 104B
          B
Bare Runèd Quires
74
Base Touches
146
Beauty’s Victory
2
Be It Not Said (A Gilded Monument)
43
Best Painter’s Art, My Barren Rhyme
18
Bootless Cries
31
Both Your Poets
84
Bound for the Prize
86
          C
Call It Winter
55
Chatter of Thy Worth
87
Commend a Crow
60
Cupid Asleep
141
          D
Double Penance
110A
Dreaming on Things to Come
100B
          E
Eve’s Apple       
97
Excuse My Jade: A New Unfolding
54
          F
False Compare
140
Famine and Feast
45
Far from Accident
117
Forgèd Hooks and Swallowed Bait
133
          H
Hate Away
153
He of Tall Building
82
His Golden Pilgrimage: An Argument from Numbers
8
How Can Love’s Eye (or Phallic “I”) Be True?
149
How Far a Modern Quill Comes Short
77
How Like a Winter
85
How to Make One Twain    
41
Hungry Eyes: A Closet Never Pierced
48
          I           
I Bore the Canopy
113
In So Profound Abysm
107A, 107B
In This Huge Rondure Hemmed
22
I One Must Be
136
I Watch the Clock
62
          K
Knot from the Stars
1
           L           
Lean Penury
75
Let Us Divided Live
33
Lips Seldom Read
128
Lofty Towers Downrazed
59
Loss and Store: The Treasure of His Spring
64
Love Is a Babe
125
           M
Make Sweet Some Vial
3
Mine Eyes Have Drawn Thy Shape
24
My Added Praise Beside (A Confined Doom)
102A, 102B
My Adder’s Sense        
108A, 108B
My Art, This Grave of Buried Love
37
My Outcast State
30
My Woeful State: She Merits Not Re-proofing       
144
           N
Nothing Divine
103A, 103B
Nothing Novel, Nothing Strange
115
Not Mixed with Seconds
123
No Vulgar Paper
32
Newer Proof     
109B
           O
Of Ears and Leaves
5
Of Feasts and Beasts
47
O Find a Happy Title
95
Of Leaves and Wells
7
Of Such a Salve to Speak
35
Our Fingers Walk with Gentle Gait
137
Over-Partial Looks
131
          P
“Print More,” Not “Let That Copy Die”.
14
          R       
 
Reckon Up the Rune
122
Roses and Thorns
106A
          S
Saucy Jacks
139
Save Thou My Rose
112B
Save Thou My Rows I Knit!
112A
Settled Gravity       
50
Slandering Creation
138
Slay Me Not by Art      
130
Some Fresher Stamp
78
Speaking in Effect     
98
Sportive Blood
118
Spurring Beauty On
49
Stay, Heavenly Guest
152
Staying Afloat
79
Stirred by a Painted Beauty
16
Such a Counterpart
81
Such Interchange of State
65
Sweet Flattery
42
Sweet Roses, Come
53
          T
Tabled Renderings
124
Tan, Sacred Beauty
119
That Which I Bring Forth
83
The Babe in the Dark
26
The Bay Where All Men Ride
132
The Better Angel
143
The Chronicle of Wasted Time
99A, 99B
The Deeper Million, Something Moor
94
The Dyer’s Hand
105A, 105B
The Fairest Votary
145
The Fires of My Bad Angel
154
The Fire That May Burn Out
6
The Map of Days Outworn
57
The Obelisk Restored
46
The Painful Warrior Famousèd for Worth
23
The Poet’s Service
150
The Poor Retainer
121
These Black Lines
69
The Seemly Raiment of My Art
20
The Sensual Feast
148
The Sessions of Sweet Silent Thought
29
These Waste Blacks, Your Soundless Deep
80
This Alchemy, Thy Lover’s Withering
116
This Basest Jewel, Teeming, Rich
90
This Composèd Wonder
66
This Lair, My Art
28
This Sad Interim (An Elegy for Hamnet)
51
This Thy Monument
111A, 111B
This Time Removed
89
This Written Ambassage    
17
Three Themes in One, or Double Penance
110B
Thus to be Crossed and Overpressed       
134
Thy Dial
72
Thy Pyramid Full-Charactered      
114
Time Pricked Thee Out (What Silent Love Hath Writ)
27
“To be...” New Made
13
Trophies of Loss: Another Woe
38
Two Beauties
129
          U
Unbless Some Mother
4
Up-Lockèd Treasure
44
          V
Vacant Leaves
73
Veterans
96
Vulgar Scandal, Idle Show
100A
          W
Weeds for Captain Ill
68
What Beauty Was of Yore
70
What I Never Writ
126
What Now to Register?
101A, 101B
What Ruin Hath Taught
67
Whose Epitaph to Make?
71
Who Will Believe My Verse?
15
Wild Music, Newer Proof
109A
Windy Puffery  
61
Within Thy Bud
11
With What I Most Enjoy Contented Least
36
Wrinkles Strange, My Patent Swerving Back
92

             
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