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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        

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Rune 41
Thirteenth lines, Set III (Sonnets 29-42)

                          Rune 41

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

     For thy sweet love, remembered, such wealth brings,
     But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
     Their images I loved I view in thee.
 4  But sense he died, and poets better prove;
     Yet him for this my love no whit disdaineth.
     Ah, but those tears are pearl which thy love sheds,
     That I an áccessary needs must be
 8  But do not so, I love thee in such sort.
     Look what is best, that best I wish in thee.
     If my slight muse do please these curious days—
     And that thou teachest, how to make one twain,
12 Lascivious grace in whom all ill well shows,
     Hers by thy beauty tempting her to thee—
     But here’s the joy: My friend and I are one.
      Glosses: 1) For = Because; 2) if the while I = if only I happen to...; 3) Their puns on There, Th’ air (the poem), Th’ heir, Tear...; 4) But sense = Mere perception (with he a reduplication); 5) him = sense (see 4); 7) i.e., So that I should join in crying; 11) one twain puns on “...want wane,” while how to make one twain refers to the Sonnets/Runes, the twin halves of Q, concurrently composed; 12-13) pun: “...a li’l Will S. house / here is bitty beauty...”; 13) Hers = grace’s (see 12); 14) But = Only, Solely.

    41. How to Make One Twain

     Because your sweet love, when recollected and recomposed in verse, brings such wealth,
     if only I happen to think about you, dear friend,
     your image embodies for me all of the images of those I have ever enjoyed looking at.
  4 With the death of a reliance on mere sensory perception, poets have broadened their range,
     though my affection for imagery and for direct observation persists unabated.
     Ah, what pearl-like tears your affection causes you to shed,
     urging me to join in the weeping,
  8 though I do not do so because of the nature of my love for you.
     I wish the best for you that can be seen with any eyes.
     If my modest but crafty inspiration brings pleasures in these curious days—
     and if what you inspire in me, a skill at bifurcation and divisiveness, seems an art
12 that is a whorelike grace whose every vileness, black as ink, appears to advantage,
     her beauty rubbing up against yours, a temptress—
     here is my muse’s singularly happy affirmation: My friend and I remain one.


          In Rune 41, ostensibly a love lyric where “love/d” recurs five times in lines 1-8, recollection (1-3) links with feeling (5-7, 9, 14) and with “sense”—a word that means perception, feeling, and/or “thought.” A series of terms about “sense” (i.e., “love,” “images,” “view,” “tears,” “Look,” “Lascivious,” “shows,” and “tempting”) links contrastively with others that suggest more rational activities (i.e., “remembered,” “think,” “prove,” and “teachest”).

          The commonplace paradox that the poet and his unnamed listener, though separated, are still one (14) gains interest from implicit references to (and parallels with) Will’s on-going business of joining sonnets and runes, and also from the idea that some “female” is trying to “make one twain” (11-13). Various pejorative “country” plays house the pudendal pun that was routine in Will’s day. Line 13 stresses vaguely “sinful” interaction between the male listener and this female. Masculine “sense,” now dead but still commanding the poet’s respect (4-5), contrasts with feminine “grace,” which is active (see 12) but not respectable.

          If Will’s “friend” is Dr. John Hall, his son-in law in Stratford, then the paradoxes of 11 and 14 may make witty sense with Sue (Susanna) Hall as one version of Q’s “perverse mistress.”

          Though meager in its imagery and dramatic situation, the poem hints that the friend’s “tear(s)”—emblems of his affection—are like baroque pearls (6) whose lustrous surfaces reflect other images that stand for what the poet’s imagination can create. Baroque decoration thus seems implicit in the terms “wealth” (1), “accessary” (7), “curious” (10), and “lascivious grace” (12). Words about eyes and sight occur as a matter of course.

          In any case the lurking Dark Lady—a whorish, cleaved figure and a conceit that (I suggest) represents Q’s perverse composition project itself—is a “lascivious grace” bent on divisive bifurcation. The usual pudendal puns on “well” link with the topic of verses—the poet’s Will/well showing “all [awl] ill” and “a li[tt]le” (12).

          Line 1 puns on “re-constituting” (i.e., “re-membering”), with an opening play on “Forty” that alludes to the rune Will has just assembled (and simultaneously disassembled): “Forty—sweet, low—‘re-membered,’ such wealth brings” is one variant of the pun. Others include “Forty is witty, low, verum [truly], hymn bared Susie H. well...,” and “Forty’s witty lore [lure, allure]....” Line 6 puns on “tears” as rips or bifurcations, with a joke in “Abut those tears [i.e., rips], aye [eye], repair…” (6). “Hearse” (pun 13) carries the sense “bury,” while “sleight” (10) implies tricks.

          Alluding to Will’s work as playwright is the pun “while I [Will, Willy] think on theatre, shrined / there images I loved…" (2-3). The concurrent play “theatre’s wry end—debtor I” shows Will’s preoccupations as economic man. And the pun “Anne, that thou teachest, how to make one twain [twin],” (11) embeds bitter family wit about Will’s leaving Stratford and about Hamnet’s death. (Anne had twins, Hamnet and Judith, and Hamnet died young, in 1596.)

           The word sheeds (6) is a variant of “sheds” that in Sonnet 34 rhymes with “deeds.” Here, the form yields the eyepun “feeds” while rhyming with needs (7) and echoing the ee in thee, terminal in lines 3, 9, 13. The wrenched accent in “accessary” (7) sharpens some of its meanings: partner in crime; underling; complementary decoration (like the “pearls” in line 6); conduit or mode of access (maybe for flowing “tears”); and—with that impugned article “an,” a play on “Anne”—overlaid puns on “asses,” “axis airy,” “X’s airy,” “nexus airy,” “awry,” and “eerie.”

          Other puns that amplify the game include these: 1) buried f**k-wealth be-rings ass; 2) count (with sexual wit), encoded as on t...; 3) Th’ eerie Magus I loved; 5) Ye eyed Ham. S. [cf. Hamnet Shakespeare] o’er; 6) ...aye, R.I.P., Earl, W. H. [suggesting Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton, Will’s known patron]; 11-12) my countwy Anne / laughs... [a tongue-tied pun]; Chianti [Count, etc., with bawdy overtones] we eye in a lascivious gray scene [...garrison home...]; 14) But Harry, Southy [cf. Henry, Southampton] I owe, my friend and I are one; runed, end, aye a rune [cf. “...dearest, runed air (poem) eye, Magus...” (2-3)]. And see just below.

Sample Puns

          1) Fore; Earlier; [Rune] Forty is witty; Farty; feud low; Fore, thy sweet lover, ma’am, be red (bred), f--k well; Verum hymn be read (buried f--k wealth)
          1-2) if you jewel t’ Hebron guess (jeweled Hebron kiss), beauties t’ you I’ll jet, inky, Auntie; Butt, I fit you; butt eye, fit hew; H.W., hail! I think on thee, dear friend; eye th’ ink; eye thin cunt (county); “I’d” in cunt [with I a phallic pictograph]
          2) cedar; satyr, frying died; in Chianti, satyrs (satires) runed
          2-3) dearest ruined heir (runed air); in Cannes theatre
          3) Th’ eerie Magus ill, Ovid eye; view Indie
          4) Butt-sin see; Anne, poetess bitty, reprove; Betty; bitter prow; John, see idiot Anne, deep ode is
          4-5) Ovid; poet’s bitter prow ye et; bitter, proud Hymn 40 some’ll own
          5) Ye eyed Ham. S. o’er; my low knot; m’ love, know wit diced; Semele (simile) in “O” hid; Dis day nigheth
          5-6) Annie, the butt whose tears [i.e., rips] aye reappear
          6) Abbot thou see tears a rip; itch thy low ass heeds; Aye, R.I.P., Earl, W. H., edged high, low shit-ass
          6-7) Witch, thy low, fetused Hat. eye, Annie’s suffering aids muffed bee
          7) th’ tie, an accessary, needs mufti; fairy; ovary needs muff t’ be
          8) Bawdy dough-knot swill; Beauty, dawn, aught foil Ovid; join f--k for art (fart); Beauty do not sow ill, Ovid hence you choose, art
          8-9) huge is O-riddle, acute ass be Shakespeare [st]; not-so-ill audience you see hiss o’er delicate “I’s”
          9 Luke weighty is best; Loo quiet is best; Look, John [w = IN], Hat. is beast, Hat.-beast, I, wife, end thee
        10) If missal I jet, muse double eye; lady muffed, apple of it, Eve see, your Jew-sad eyes (“I” is) indebted t’ haughty ass hefty
        10-11) fetus, see Uriah’s dais, indebted thou teachest; I see the sacristy is ended (scented)
        11) may cunt wane; count (overlaid on “one, twain”); automachon [cf. automaton]; T.T., who Judas half-taught o’ m’ cunt         
Chianti way eye in a lascivious gray scene; anal
        12) Laugh, Sue, John’s grace eye, gnome, Hall ill, well shows; W.H., homme; ill Will shows; see Eve joins grass; anomaly; all eye Lowell (jewel) show, a shire’s bitty beauty saw is
        13) Hearse; bitty; Betty; bawdy; inch hurt
        13-14) in jeered oath, a butt hairy is the joy; beau tidy, I’m petting her dowdy butt
        14) But here’s the joy: Misery end, Anne die, a rune; But here’s t’ Amos, wry in Dan; hymn of wry Indian, dear, wan; Darien; end: eye a rune

Acrostic Wit

           The downward acrostic codeline—F BT BYAT BL I A LHB—encodes such potentialities as these: “If Betty bit Bill (bed bull), eye a lap (lip),” “Fate [B=8] bad, Italy isle be [B=8],” “If bitty Betty be, I’ll eye a Libbie,” “If ‘Bitty Betty’ belie, eye Libbie,” and “Sated, ye Tibalt-jewel ate” [F=S, B=8].

           The upward codelineBHLAI L BTAY B TBF—encodes such potential messages as these: “Belly ill, Betty ate [B=8] beef,” “Baal I’ll be tidy aid of,” “‘Bull’ aye’ll be tied t’ beef,” “‘Baal I eye, ill Bede,’ aye yapped Titus [F=S],” and “Belly pound [LB+T] I, beat beef.” The codeline also suggests Holy, Holly.

           The downward code seems to house plays on “Betty” and “Libby,” likely variants of “Elizabeth [Hall],” Will’s granddaughter, born February 1608]: e.g., “If ‘Bitty Betty’ belie [addle (= code 8-L)], eye Libbie.” (With L=I in the code, LIAIHB = Libbie.) The encoded name recurs in the upward reverse as, e.g., B.Hall eye, Libbie; Betty [BTAY]; Betty [BT]; and Bess (with F=S because these letters in lower-case forms look alike in print).

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