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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

Set III, Runes 29-42: Texts and Comments 
Copyright © Roy Neil Graves 2003, All Rights Reserved        

Proceed to Rune 36
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Rune 35
Seventh lines, Set III (Sonnets 29-42)

                          Rune 35

     (Seventh lines, Set III: Sonnets 29-42)

     Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope
     And weep, a fresh love’s long-since canceled woe,
     As interest of the dead. Which now appear,
 4  Reserve them for my love (not for their rhyme),
     And from the fórlorn world his visage hide;
     For no man well of such a salve can speak,
     Myself corrupting, salving thy amiss—
 8  Which, though, it alter not, love’s sole effect
     Entitled in. Their parts do crownèd sit:
     For who’s so dumb that cannot write to thee
     That, by this separation, I may give?
12 But yet be blamed if thou this self deceivest
     And—when a woman woes—what woman’s son.
     (Anne, “for my sake,” even Sue, doth she abuse me.)
      Glosses: 2) weep (sb.) = lamentation; Q loues = love’s, love is...; 3) Which = these poems which, punning on witch; 6) man well puns, “male pudendum”7) thy amiss puns on thymus (1693, from Gr.), “a warty excrescence”; 9) Entitled in = engraved, firmly grounded; Their (ambig.) = other (female?) writers, or the “men” of line l; 11) That = What; separation = estrangement, or this text, with its 14 line units disparate in Q; 13) what = whatever (some other, any); 14) Q And = Anne, Will’s wife; Q so = Sue, familiar for Susanna, Will’s older daughter, Mrs. John Hall. Body part puns include heart (1), hide (5), sole (8), crown (9), toothy (10), “hard” (1), and “well” (6).

      35. Of Such a Salve to Speak

     Lacking one male writer’s art and another’s range
     and skill at complaint, each of these new expressions of love is like some long-forgotten sorrow,
     like a preoccupation of or a legacy from the dead. As to the verses newly seen here,
  4 let them be reserved for the eyes of my beloved alone, not for their rhyme (since they’re unrhymed) but rather for their sentiment,
     and let his identity stay hidden, even though doing so will make the world forlorn.
     For no man can speak well of such a salve as this balm
     that corrupts me and glosses over any fault of yours, my love,
  8 without, however, altering it—love’s unique power to focus and to accept imperfection
     being indelibly ingrained. Other writers’ separate titles seem to align themselves in triumph. (Some writers’ preeminent “parts” are those they sit on.)
     For is there any speaker alive who can’t say to you in verse
     exactly what I can offer you, during this period of our separation, in these texts, each made up of non-contiguous lines?
12 Still, I will hold you accountable if you deceive me
     or any other mother’s son. When a son is mistreated, his mother generally grieves.
     My own situation is different: My wife, Anne, and even my daughter Sue—both abuse me. Anne says it’s “for my own good.”


           Another of the self-pitying laments in Set III, this runic text seems a relatively harder nut to crack than some others. The pun amisse (7) and the apparent non sequiturs in 13-14—where “a woman” and “she” seem to crop up out of the blue—suggest a cherchez la femme approach while raising all the larger issues traditionally tied to the Dark Lady of the Sonnets. I propose that Will’s abusive “ms.” is, at least on one level, the Q writing project itself.

          Atypically, I’ve settled here on an edited version that reads Q’s forms (in 14) as namepuns on two real women in Will’s life. Scholarly precedent exists for reading Q’s And as a pun on Anne (see, e.g., editor Stephen Booth’s note on Sonnet 145.13); none that I know of exists for finding “Sue” in Q’s So, but until now readers have not known that Q is a punning tour de force. The tenuous logic of “my” ending is associational: The notion that a woman “woes” when she sees her son deceived or abused (see 13) suggests a contrary situation in which two female family members are the poet’s own abusers (in 14). Other students of the text will find other solutions to this set of playful conundrums.

          As usual Will’s pungame includes local variants of “find the antecedent,” “shift the number,” and “shift the mode of address.” Vague pronouns include “them” (4) and “their” (9). Key thematic puns are “well” (6), “salve / salving” (6-7) and “amisse / a miss / a ms.” (7). “Salve” (as ointment) is a latinate pun on “well” that suggests “Will,” inkwell, the pudendum, and “salvo.” Q’s form salue also allows eyepuns on valve / fallow / value / false / fail / sail. By 1666 “Miss”—a clipped form of “mistress”—meant a woman of easy virtue. The pun “man well” (6), suggesting an orifice, picks up the initial masculine emphasis—“this man’s…that man’s” (1)—in the context of plays on the f-word (in Q’s form of such, always a bawdy eyepun) and wit about “peaking” and lubrication.

           The “wo-man” that is implied by “a miss” equates with “woe” (2, 13)—a routine pun in 1609 that’s not dead yet in 2003—and with abuse (13-14). The “woman well” implied here may also be a “dumb” female scribbler (see 10). Further, “love’s sole effect” (8) may joke about a misfired ejaculation toward the feet. Opening the poem is the linepun “Desiring thy semen’s ardent height, my Anne’s scope...” (1).

          “Entitled in” (9) may point to the marriage of Will’s titled patron Southampton, Henry Wriothesley—to Elizabeth Vernon, thereafter Countess of Southampton—in 1598. “Who’s so dumb that cannot Write-to-thee?” (10) jokes, I think, about the spelling of “Wriothesley,” with the phrase “that-by-this separation” (11) hinting that one might sound out the syllables. The “seaman” joke (in 1) might’ve caught the eye of Southy, who had a naval background.

           Dr. John Hall, Will’s son-in-law and Susanna’s (“Sue’s”) husband, would’ve enjoyed the wit about “salving.” “Salving thymus [OED 1693, from mod. L and Gr]” (7) is an insistent joke with bawdy implications in the linepun “Missile see, corrupt inch salving thymus [a gland in the throat].” (Homoeroticism in the Sonnets is an old topic.) As the conceit goes, it may be that Will “corrupts” himself not just by writing bad verse but also by loving the male muse (7), hiding his identity, and “salving” his flaws. In doing so, he invites the wrath of the “other woman” (13-14), whose claims are “entitled in” as the result of “love’s sole effect” (8-9).

          Tangential “clerical” puns include “cope” (1), “sins canceled,” “celled woe” (2), “a sinner,” “rest of the dead” (3), “world’s vice aged” (5), “Salve…” (6, 7), “my cell see” (7), “Witch,” “altar,” “lose soul,” “soul’s sect” (8), “rite taught he” (10), “eye Magi you,” “image eye you,” and “eye m’ Jew” (11). “What woman’s son?” suggests Christ, another abused figure who liked to say “for my sake” (see 13-14). “What woman [i]s son?” and “What woman’s fon [i.e., silly]?” (13) are both rhetorical questions, with joking answers, “None” and “All.”

          Economic legalese (which Will uses routinely in Q) includes “Canceled,” “interest,” “reserve,” “value,” “effect,” and “entitled.”

Sample Puns

          1) Desire inched high, my end’s (Anne’s) certain death—8, my end’s (Anne’s) scope; seaman; semen; Simeon
          1-2) Simon certain did eye Timon’s scope and, dewy, piss
          2) A frieze, (Raise) Heloise long since canceled; Eye fair fellows, long of inches; we piss ruffles long; Undo a pisser if itch low is; see, Anne, Celled Woe; dewy pee I freeze; ankle; uncle; weep as racial office, “long sins” canceled woe
          3) A center of tossed, heady adieus in “O” appear; Ascend rest of the dead; witch in “O” appear; ape-ear
          4) Reserved hymn formula; Our ferret (...varied) hymns, our mellow knot, afford (assert...) higher rhyme; Monsieur My Love
          4-5) Harry amends “roam,” the furlough new; Rome; my low knot fartier, wry, mean (m’ end, m’ Anne)
          5) End of Rome, the forlorn world’s Vice, aged; End, fair homme, this earl o’er, new earl dies, why? f--ked foreign omen; lore new; new whore, Lady Savage, eyed
          6) Fore know man-well, O, f--k; a salve see, Anne’s peak (pique); see Anne speak; Will; of F--k-Ass Hall you see enough (a knave); “I’s” ornamental “O” f--k, I see Lucan’s pique (icy Lucan, speak)
          6-7) a fey Luke eye, nice pee came
          7) Ms.-elf; a miss; My cell (Missal, Missile) see, corrupt inch, salving thymus [gland 1693, from Gr.]; salving, thymo- [comb. form, antiseptic powder, from Gr.] I see
          8) Witch, though jet [black], altaring; altar knot loves; low is “sole,” ass-sect; low vessel’s f--ked; wassail; laugh-sect
          9) I knighted lady knight; Anne, titled in th’ air, [de]parts; do [musical]; Doc runed fit; Entitled (End idled), John, th’ heir, part ass, Doc [cf. “Spread your cheeks, Dr. Hall”]; parts sad o’ Crow Nate F. eyed; zero
          9-10) In tittle-din, th’ err-parts darker win Ed. fit of errors
        10) Sorrows; Furrows so dumb t’ Hat., see Anne-knot right toothy; foe-rows fought you, homme; bed Hat., see Anne “O”
        11-12) by this ass-operation, I’m a Jew butt, yet be belamed; Taught by this separation, image I view, Beauty, babe lame, deaf
        12) if thou this cell sad see, eye you Shakespeare [st] 12-13 See dick Eve, aft, undoing; fit and dewy, Nehemiah new “O” sought, woman’s “sun”
        13) Anne; Undone; Anne-twin; W. Hen., a woman; eyed womb, Anne’s son; Hat.-woman’s sunny; womance [a tongue-tied form]; ...Anne [= w = IN]Hat-woe, my Anne, is fon [i.e., silly]        
        14) Anne forms ache, event’s odd; oath’s heap you see, me; sod o’ this (hee!) above me; End 4…even [a numbers pun]; Anne deforms ague (a cue); Anne forms, yes, a queue, and…does…abuse me; Anne, Dis-whore, m’ f--king foe, doth she abuse me; aye in desire, ms.-ache [cf. “mistake”], even so does Phoebus may [v.]; whore may say cue (seek you); fetid, heavy ape you see

Acrostic Wit

           The downward acrostic codeline—DAARA FM WIFT BAA— suggests such decodings as these: “Dare [Dear,] affirm [that] wifed be I aye,” “Derive ‘my wife-to-be’,” “Dear, a femme, wife-to-be, eye aye,” “Dairy femme [i.e., Dairymaid] whiffed ‘baa!’,” “Dairy (Diary, Dear eye, Dear ‘I’) of m’ Wife-to-be I eye,” “Day arrive, m’ wife t’ bay (…my whiffed ‘8’ [B=8] I eye,” “Dear ass, my wife-to-be,” “Day eye, raft, my wife t’ bay,” “Dear half muffed [the mute runes], bay,” “Dear half muffed be,” “Derive m’ wife-to-be,” “Tariff mew…,” and “Dear half-hymn, W.-Ovid (whiffed) be I aye.”

          The upward (reverse) codeline—A ABT F IW M FARAAD—suggests forms of “butt” and “fume,” capped by an insistently germane Saxonism. Readings include, e.g., “Aye a butt, few m’ fart,” “Eye a bit of eye (‘I’), Wm.-forehead,” “Eye a bit of you, homme: forehead,” “A bitty femme forehead,”“Abbot, fume of Herod (…view m’ fart; …m’ effort),” “Eye a bit of you, muff horrid (arid),” “Abbot, fie! Whim of art,” “Eye Abbot fume afar, 1 A.D.”

          With F = S, alternative readings include “De arras mews Tubby,” “Abbot femme’s (Swami’s?) aired (heard),” “I a butt-fume sorry add,” “Eye Abbot fume fart,” “Eye a bit of ‘I’—William’s hard (…horrid; …a reed; …aright; …our 8),” and “Abbot swims hard.”

           A practiced player finds the acrostic code readily triggering “foreign” terms. (Will overtly interpolates French speech in Henry V, 5.2, with delightful results.) Here the codestring FIWM obviously suggests femme.

Proceed to Rune 36
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