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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 IX, Runes 113-126: 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 113
Rune 114
Rune 115
Rune 116
Rune 117
Rune 118
Rune 119
Rune 120
Rune 121
Rune 122
Rune 123
Rune 124
Rune 125
Rune 126


          Available here are Runes 113-126, 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 113 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 114 is the sequence of second lines in the 14 visible sonnets shown below, Rune 115 is the sequence of third lines, and so on through Rune 126.

           Clicking on a rune number in one of the boxes above (Runes 113-126) 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 IX: Far from Accident


         Unaware of Q’s runic game, Sonnets editors have mostly ignored the “empty couplet” lines in Sonnet 126 as meaningless, unauthorized printer’s “filler.” In truth, these “quietuses two” (Sonnet 126.12) work as real lines and house complex sense and wit. In Runes 125 and 126 the lines have separate jobs, while on the leaf and in Sonnet 126 they work together.

         Interlinked are famous lines from Q’s “misnumbered” Sonnet 116 that, disparately, accrue new runic meanings. The pun “Let me knot two, the marriage of true minds”—housing “mirage” and the play “theme airy eye, a jest t’ rue, my ends”—alludes not only to all the linked Sonnets and Runes but specifically to the “knotty two” lines that close the set. Sonnet 116’s own coy close, “If this be error…,” comments both on Will (and Thomas Thorpe)’s “misnumbering” of 116 as 119 and on these two “missing” lines, which will punningly calls “Quietuses two” that “render thee” (Sonnet 126.12). Now, when Will tells us to “admit impediments,” (Sonnet 119.2), we concede Q’s stumblingblocks but don’t “alter” our affections upon finding the alterations (cf. “adorations”).

         In a minimal sense, the “bending sickles” of Sonnet 116 also designate the two up-coming sets of italicized parentheses that we see in Sonnet 126, so that the “rosy lips and cheeks” that those parentheses house are pictographically one of the poet’s referents in Sonnet 116.9. These “rendered” parentheses, reasonably accurate as lips, also form a visual pun on fat buttocks, “cheeks” cut in two or “rendered,” with the broadened pictograph (    )(     ) implicit. The pun “Butt, bare side out (Butt bare sight out), even to the edge of doom” (Sonnet 116.12) has these paired “cheeks” in mind, “rendered.” The pictograph, further, may show a belted fat middle; a vacuous person; paired gums for chewing; a crowned head; dovelike whiteness; and the “zero” lurking in “Crow” (cf. “Crow or Dove” in Sonnet 113.12, initial in the set). Concurrently these marginalized airy spaces are the “edge of doom” that Will mentions at Sonnet 116.12, “rendering” the empty Unknowns that at bottom await us all and that will “render” humankind: The top one stands for heaven, the nether one for hell. As two “knotted” items, the empty-line pair also show us “the marriage of jesty rumens” (cf. Sonnet 116.1). The joke is Will’s, the stomach knots ours.

         The “renderings” probably refer also to Southampton’s moustache, also “cheeks” in one sense, though “proving” this is a complex, cumulative deduction. Briefly, in Rune 126, “em-peached” (13) links with the pun “Two [empty lines] give full growth to that which still doth grow” (3). Other puns (cf. puns, Rune 126.5-6) also point to an in-group joke about whether Southy had looked better moustached or clean-shaven. John Sanford’s Latin poem (1592) had praised Southy’s beauty “although his mouth scarcely yet blooms with tender down” (qtd. Akrigg 36).

         More broadly, the final formal “Audite” in Set IX echoes and complements the initial aberration in Set VIII. As paired “mysteries,” these last two lines also point forward as analogues that epitomize the upcoming Perverse Mistress sets (X, XI)—sets that provide a “couplet” close to the entire Q scheme, just as these two empty lines help round off Set IX. The MegaSonnets’ couplet is ironically vertical, not horizontal, as Q’s organization scheme helps us visualize. (Link: How Will Wrote the Runes.)

         The epithet “quietuses two” also describes the blank corners of each folio leaf, providing a corroborating clue about arrangement of materials on the spreads. The joke in “rendering” suggests that one might doodle in these “quietuses.” The pun “…tore end earthy” (Rune 126.14) means “bawdy, separated toward the bottom.” In this set, Will’s “birds”—his “Crow and Dove”— soar higher, in the equivalent of the heavens, by coming early in the set, and also atop Rune 124.

         Maybe the two empty page corners gave Will the idea of letting two “nothings,” two aberrant “perverse mysteries,” gain significance in his large plan. In the broadest sense, the “Quietuses” that still “render”—that “show,” “divide,” and torture like a rack—are the Runes themselves.

         Representative of other minimal wit in Set IX are the odd double T’s and commas in Rune 113.10—where redundancies point to Thomas Thorpe, the printer (and signer of the dedication) whose complicity was required to see that Will’s minimal authorizations were honored through the printing state rather than being “corrected” and edited out. Similarly eye-catching is the gappy pictographic spacing at Sonnet 120.6, encoding the pun “As I bare ass , ye have pastel of Tommy.” The italicized-word string also exemplifies a likely game element.

         In new conceits, diverse materials in the set reiterate familiar themes that include vision, heart vs. mind, separation, suffering, faithfulness, apologies for Q and pride in it, the muse as ideal paragon and as Captain Ill—as Winner and Waster. I draw the set title from among many other authorizations: e.g., This Flattery; Thy Pyramid’s Built Up; The Marriage of True Minds; Nothing Novel, Nothing Strange; This Alchemy; My Sportive Blood; Tan, Sacred Beauty; Thy Registers.

             

Click on a link below to see the text in paste-up, edited, and paraphrased forms, with sample puns and acrostic wit.
Rune 113
Rune 114
Rune 115
Rune 116
Rune 117
Rune 118
Rune 119
Rune 120
Rune 121
Rune 122
Rune 123
Rune 124
Rune 125
Rune 126
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