Shakespeares Lost Sonnets: A Restoration
of the Runes
Set VI, Runes 71-84: Texts and Comments
Tenth lines, Set VI (Sonnets 71-84)
(Tenth lines, Set VI: Sonnets 71-84)
When I, perhaps, compounded am with clay,
That you, for love, speak well of me untrue
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie
4 The prey of worms, my body being dead
And, by and by, clean, starvèd for a look,
And you and love are still my argument
Commit to these waste blacks, and thou shalt find
8 Whose influence is thine, and borne of thee:
From thy behavior, beauty doth he give,
Whilst he upon your soundless deep doth ride,
Which eyes not yet created shall oer-read.
12 What strainèd touches rhetoric can lend!
Which shall be most my glory? Being dumb?
Not making worse what nature made so clear?
Glosses: 2) That = So that; 5) for a look = at a glance; 7) Commit = Refer, Join (yourself).
80. These Waste Blacks, Your Soundless Deep
When it may happen that my body is mingled with earth,
in order that you, for loves sake, speak well of me, an imperfect man
who lies on the ashes of his youth
4 food for worms, my body being dead
and eventually picked clean, a skeleton to look at,
and even then eloquent with the theme of you, and love
enter and embrace this ink-black region and you shall discover
8 whom you inspire and buoy up:
Your actions are the source of the beauty he contributes
(as he rides on your silent, fathomless ocean)
to unborn readers (who may miss things, or overexplicate).
12 What strained touches rhetoric can add!
What shall be most to my credit? Staying mute?
Not falsifying what nature made so plain?
self-effacing, Will’s comment here about himself as writer
actually employs the “strained rhetoric” he seems to eschew
(12) because he suggests his texts are like an ugly, worm-eaten corpse
(5) that can be “o’er-read” (11)—with puns on
“oar” and “red”—as a thing of beauty (9)
that’s carried on the tide of the friend’s “soundless
deep” (8, 10). As “waste blacks” (7), the mute poems
are also like the sea itself, the soundless medium (cf. 10) of a “dumb”
poet (12). The word “commit” (7) suggests voluntary burial—maybe
ours—in this medium. “Clean” (5), “strainèd”
(12), and “clear” (14) are ancillary jokes about water, and
“influence” (8) suggests “in-flowing.” Other watery
and “nautical” puns include “furlough’s peak”;
“speak well of me” (2); “thou salt find [finned]”
(7); “canal (channel) end” (12); “moist my glory”
(13); and “not making [knot-making] wharf” (14). The word
“compounded” (1), a comments on the Sonnets/Runes project,
points toward a mixture of clay (1) or ashes (3) with the liquid element.
Both “well” (2) and the hint of ink in “blacks”
(7) link Will’s “liquid” motif to the act of writing.
a nice peer, helps hell come; see homme, peon dead, amid his
lay; a mute itch slay; W.H. in ice, peer happy is
downward acrostic codeline—WTTTAACWFWWWWN—with
its surfeit of Ws, the poet’s favorite initial, adumbrates such
interpretations as these: “Wit’s wife win,” “Witty,
I Sue offend,” “Witty ass, whiff wen ,” “…whiff,
win,” “Wet ass, (Witch-)wife win,” “Witty eye,
aye see W. fon,” and “Wet ‘I’ [phallic] I see….”