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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        

             

Click on a link below to see the text in paste-up, edited, and paraphrased forms, with sample puns and acrostic wit.
Rune 29
Rune 30
Rune 31
Rune 32
Rune 33
Rune 34
Rune 35
Rune 36
Rune 37
Rune 38
Rune 39
Rune 40
Rune 41
Rune 42


          Available here are Runes 29-42, each synoptically arranged in paste-up, edited, and paraphrased forms,
with my editorial comments and with editorial samples of puns in the lines and of gamy potential meanings that lie hidden in the emphatic acrostic codelines.

           Rune 29 emerges when you read “across” the set spread shown below so that you link up the sequence of 14 first lines. The other runes in the set emerge similarly: For example, Rune 30 is the sequence of second lines in the 14 visible sonnets shown below, Rune 31 is the sequence of third lines, and so on through Rune 42.

           Clicking on a rune number in one of the boxes above (Runes 29-42) will allow you to read and study an individual text carefully, comparing its edited form to the actual details of the Quarto lines and to my editorial paraphrase. All editorial materials represent carefully considered but necessarily incomplete approaches to the riddlic, gamelike texts hidden in Q.


Notes on Set III: My Outcast State

      
          The lines of the two opening sonnets here—among the better known in Q—color all the runes in the set with melancholy contemplation; the affirmations of their couplets, by contrast, lend a relatively upbeat tone to Runes 41 and 42, as if to make those two a sort of “couplet close” to the runic string inherent on the leaf. Sonnet 33, with its butchered-looking confessional line mentioning “Heaven’s Sun [Son]” (Sonnet 33.14), provides a rare “Christian” detail—however “serious”—in a welter of Q verses sometimes verging on sacrilege. The acrostic NOT (Sonnets 35, 39, 42) catches the eye on the leaf, as does the familiar TT (41-42) and (less overtly) the long-line endpun “dusty f--ker” in the upper right (Sonnet 32.2).

          The nascent figure of the Perverse Mistress, anticipated in Rune 26.13, finds various manifestations in Set III—e.g., as “Thy Amiss” (Rune 35), “Lascivious Grace” (Rune 41), and “Sweet Flattery” (Rune 42). Rune 32.9-10 here uses the concept of Rival Poet, first mentioned in Rune 19. These conceits—for the poet’s “perverse mysteries [cf. mss.]” and for himself in the “antagonistic” role of rune-writer—gain momentum as the cycle builds in later sets. On one level, at least, the “crime” of the auditor, portrayed as a “sweet thief” (Rune 42.7) etc., is his complicity in the runegame.

           As it emerges in the runes, the tenuous topical unity in Set III comes from a preoccupation with the bifurcated writing project itself, its paradoxes and ironies, the impossibility of its publication. The usual text in the set is a lament or complaint. If Set I urges “increase” and Set II deals with the poet’s role in securing the muse fame, Set III stresses the poet’s alienation from the very figure he “flatters” and—until the last covert text or so—seems to be saying, “What have I gotten myself into here?”

           The editorial title I’ve imposed on Set III denotes not only Will’s personal isolation—as romantically suffering artist, necessarily isolated by the act of writing from the object(s) of his intense attention—but also these unprinted “discards,” the Runes, that we are not recompositing, as it were, from the “outcast” fragments of Q, as printed. Though OED shows “state” emerging late (1874) as a technical engraving term, the meaning “condition (of a ms.)” is already inherent in the ME meaning: “One of several forms or conditions in which an object…is found to exist.”

           Emerging Stratford-focused materials invite new readings of the Sonnets in the set, but the irreducible mysteries of biography seem to remain locked inside the poet’s crafty brain.

             

Click on a link below to see the text in paste-up, edited, and paraphrased forms, with sample puns and acrostic wit.
Rune 29
Rune 30
Rune 31
Rune 32
Rune 33
Rune 34
Rune 35
Rune 36
Rune 37
Rune 38
Rune 39
Rune 40
Rune 41
Rune 42
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