Set II, Runes 15-28: Texts and Comments
Eleventh lines, Set II (Sonnets 15-28)
(Eleventh lines, Set II: Sonnets 15-28)
Where wasteful, time debated with decay
Neither in inward worth nor outward fair
And your true rights be termed a poets rage.
4 Nor shall death brag thou wandrest in his shade:
Him, in thy course untainted, do allow,
And, by addition, me, of thee defeated
As any mothers child, though not so bright,
8 Bearing thy heart, which I will keep so chary.
Who plead for love and look for recompense
Are windows to my breast (wherethrough the sun
Is from the book of honor razèd quite)
12 And puts apparel on my tottered loving,
Which, like a jewel, hung in ghastly night.
So flatter I the swart-complexioned night.
Glosses: 1) time suggests meter, and thus poetry; 3) rights: also, rites; 5) Him = Death (see 4), with Him in t... a play on Hamnet (Wills dead son), and course, on corse (i.e., corpse); 6) And plays on Anne, Hamnets mother (see mothers child in 7); 8) I will puns, I, Will...; chary = frugally; 9) Who = Those who, Whoever may; 9) the sun plays on son, echoing Him in t... in 5and on The Son, suggesting Christ (with book of honor implying the Bible); 13) hung: a past-tense verb.
25. A Jewel Hung in Ghastly Night
One would spend time and verses unproductively trying to argue with the fact of mortality
(neither decay nor such wasted time has basic worth or is pleasant to see)
and my doing so would allow this ceremonial tribute to be called mere poetic madness.
4 Nonetheless, death shall not brag that you move in his domain;
rather, allow death to move in your uncorrupted sphere,
and me along with him, your submissive subject
like every other mothers child, though not so brilliant,
8 carrying your heart, which I, Will, intend to guard so carefully.
These poems or any voices who plead for love and look for something to compensate decay
are like windows through which you can see my heart. (Throughout my breast the sun
supplanted, perhaps, by a sonis erased in this book that shows whom I honor.)
12 Such voices in effect put raiment on my ragged affection,
which I have hung in the ghostly night like a jewel.
Thus I flatter the dark night.
poet’s strained conceits may be heard to denigrate his
obsequious role and concurrently to flatter the friend, who, having for
now conquered death and the world, demands absolute worship. The basic
figures that develop motifs of light and darkness and of clothes and personal
decoration seem mainly to compare the poet to a lowly page in the muse’s
service. Finally the poet’s love—along with this poem expressing
it—is like a star or light-catching jewel set against darkness (12).
If the pun “Baring thy art…” (8) refers to those “who…look
for re-compense [a pun on re-composition with a pen]” (9), then
we who are “letting the light in” to this world of the poet’s
darkness by revealing his secret poems are like “windows”
into his heart, or art.
1) W.H. erased full-time debate
The downward acrostic codeline—WN AN HAABWAIAW S—has an “Anne H.” component that encourages such readings as ”“Win Anne Hab-away, ass,” “Winnow Anne Hate-way [B = phonic 8] ass,” “Win Annie 8 ways,” “Woo Anne, unhappy wages,”and “Winnow Annie 8 ways.” Other potentialities in the codelines are, e.g., “W. (VV = pictographic fangs) a Nun High, abuse,” “When any I eye be wise…,” “Teeth [i.e., pictographic fangs] none, happy W. aye jaws,” “Wend unhappy way, Jews,” “Wend aye in happy way, Jews,” and “Win an Happy Way, Jews.”