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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 V, Runes 57-70: Texts and Comments 
Copyright © Roy Neil Graves 2003, All Rights Reserved        

Proceed to Rune 62
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Rune 61
Fifth lines, Set V (Sonnets 57-70)

                          Rune 61

     (Fifth lines, Set V: Sonnets 57-70)

     Nor dare I chide the world. Without end hour,
     Oh, let me suffer, being at your beck,
     Oh, that recórd could, with a backward look
  4 Nativity once in the main of light!
     Is it thy spirit that thou send’st from thee?
     Methinks no face so gracious is, as mine
     Hath traveled on to age’s steepy night
  8 When I have seen the hungry ocean gain.
     Oh, how shall summer’s honey breath hold out?
     And, gilded honor shamefully misplaced,
     Why should false painting imitate his cheek
12 Before the golden tresses of the dead?
     Their outward thus with outward praise is crown’d;
     So thou be good, slander doth but approve.
     Glosses: 1) Nor dare puns, “In order, ...ardor, ...ordure”; 2) beck (ambig.) = summons, rocky stream; 3) that = I who...; could is an eyepun on cold; 4) main = sea (pun: mane, m’ Annie); 4-5) Q’s maine of light /Is it...puns, “m’ Annie o’ slight eyesight”; 5) suggesting “expiration,” breathing out, with a namepun on “...speare”; that thou puns on “Hath-o-V,”i.e., Hathaway; 6-7) mine / Hath traveled puns, “m’ Annie Hath-traveled [and is thus away]”; 7) steepy suggests both precipitous and moist; 8) “When I have seen the hungriest Anne gain...” is a joke (one of hundreds) about Ann’s obesity; 9) summers (Q 9): “Summer S.” is an epithet for Will as an “adder” or “numbers man,” i.e., metricist or poet;10) gilded honor puns on a code of secrecy inside a guild or coterie; 11) his cheek echoes the image of summer breezes in 9; 12) tresses—golden and buried—is a conceit for the Runes, adumbrating braids and thus “knots” (and see the puns “mane” in 4, crown’d in 13); 13) outward suggests both “exterior” and an outbound ship (echoing other nautical imagery) and alludes to the (overt) Sonnets; is crown’d / so thou puns, e.g., “I see Rune D...,” “I see (icy) rowing, DeSoto...” (with “lander” and “a prow” in 14). Other family namepuns include Sue (so, in 6, 14) and S. Hall (9, 11); ...hold out / And...(9-10) puns, e.g., “...Hall, doubting”; and Why should false painting (11) puns, “Wise Hall defaults, panting....”

     61. Windy Puffery

     I don’t dare blame the world. Endlessly,
     Oh, let me suffer here at the rocky stream of your bidding,
     Oh—I who could look backward and recollect
a glorious birth once, bathed in the sea of light!
     Is it your spirit that you radiate? (Do you send me away? Are you dying?)
     I think there is no face so gracious as yours, since mine
     has traveled on into the damp, precipitous darkness of advancing age
  8 where I now observe huge losses to that hungry ocean.
     Oh, how can I be confident that summer’s sweet breath will last?
     And, in a shameful instance of pointless decoration,
     why should one represent summer’s puffed cheeks
12 trying to stir the golden braids of the dead,
     thus honoring lifeless appearances with purely superficial attention?
     Trying to show your consummate goodness, one may assent to such things and thus speak slanderously by not telling the whole truth. One tries but fails to show your vitality. You are such a paragon that even your harshest critics cannot find fault.


         Three initial “Oh’s” puff up this mock lament to help produce “false panting” (pun, 11) expressing Will’s “suffering” (2). (The inaugural pun “In order [ordure] I chide the world” jokes, “I’m moving through this cycle” and “I’m up to here in bullshit.”) “Summer’s [metricist’s] honey breath” (9) describes these sweet, airy compliments, and “chide” (1), “outward praise” (13), and “slander” (14) are other variants of windy talk. The question in 5 alludes to oral expiration, a soul leaving the body through the mouth, or breaking wind from “cheeks.” Whether or not “cheek” (11) meant effrontery in l609, “his cheek” suggests chatter.

           The poem’s drift is toward ironically approving of all this “slander” (14) to keep the friend “good,” especially by securing his reputation. Line 6 undercuts the poet’s mock praise, and the witty implication of 10-13 is that someone may be “puffing” on a golden-haired corpse—or a flaccid penis. Line 11 suggests the familiar picture of a puffing, cheeky wind personified on maps, charts, and horoscopes. Details in 3 and 7 recall a medieval world view—with precipitous edges of oceans bordering on nothingness.

           Will reinforces his windiness with a cluster of meteorological and geographical details: e.g., “the world” (1); “beck [a rocky stream]” (2); “main [sea] of light” (4); “this pirate” (5); “traveled” and “steepy [steep, soggy] night” (7); “hungry Ocean” (8); and “summer’s…breath” (9). “Outward” (13) and “ap-prow” (14) suggest sea exploration. Another cluster of figures suggests golden hair. The acrostic NOON (1-4) echoes the images of midday in 4 and, generally, of the sun. Phallic puns collectively imply that the “golden hair” may be pubic.

           Sniggers lurk in “Nativity…in the mane of light” (4), “sending spurt…from thee” (5) and “gilded ‘honer’ shamefully misplaced” (10). Phallic bawdry also lies in “awl” (e.g., 2); “a backward look” (3); “steepy knight” (7); “Wen, I have seen thee hungry [hung (a)wry]” (8); “it ate, his cheek” (11); and “butt I prow” (14). The “O’s” (2, 3, 9) suggest orifices in plays like “‘O’ gracious is, ass mine” (6) and “the hungry ‘O’ seen” (8). Puns on phallic “I” include “No redder ‘I’” (1) and “be ‘I-inch’ at your back” (2). “Philander doth butt approve” (14) may encode homophile humor.

           References to the “public” sonnets are loudest in 4 and 13, while the pun in “obits” allows the directive “No one eye my ‘HW’ obits [‘O’-bits]” to refer to the private runes. Clues in line 3 point to an alphabetic reverse encoded in e koold raw-kc a bahti wd luocd roc ertahth O. This code suggests, e.g., such readings as these: “Eagle t’ raucous, abated Luke dour asserted, ‘Who?’ [‘Ho!’]” and “A cold row kiss, eye bitty, word-locked rows; irritateth ‘O’!”) How many other such reverses hide in the Q lines? Are any genuinely authorized? Surely some are.

Sample Puns

          1) In ordure I shit; Rune, dearest, hide the world; Know ready, rich idea
          1-2) the “earled” widow you tend hourly, Tommy
          2) fair sea being God, your beck [i.e., stream]; Tommy, if you Pharisee be, in jet you’re back; sir, sipping at your piss (...pickle, beagle); hourly Tommy suffers, being à Tower
          2-3) a Tower becoded record cold, with a backward look
          3-4) witty ape, a sick-ward, look in; aye, seek Word, Luke, Nativity unseen; Oathed rake, our deckled (cf. deckel; tickled) wit, obeys cue, hard-looking 8 I’ve eyed
          4) Nate I’ve eyed, “Y” wan see in theme, a knave light
          4-5) unseen, the menace, legate I sight, thief, pirate that thou sendest of Rome; unseen theme, Anne o’ slight eyesight
          5) thou fiend, fits remedy
          5-6) Fair homme, the midden (mitten) kiss, no sauce so gracious is as mine; know feces; Aye, Southy’s pirate that thou find, Shakespeare formed him; th’ ink snows a sea-fog radius, high seas (I seize money)
          6) fog ray shows aye Sesame nigh; gray show seas; eye simony; gray deuces eye, Simon; I say “semen”; gray shows Isis mine
          6-7) as many eye th’ trowel, don’t touch; M’ Annie Hath-travelled-on to age’s steepy night
          7) Hat. t’ ravel Dante, Jesus! Jesus t’ Eben I jet; a Jesus type I negate
          7-8) Twenty half-scent the hungry “O,” see Anne gain; negate, W.H., a naive senate (synod), Hun, Grecian
          8) knaves; finite hen
          8-9) anus-hole; th’ Hun, greasy Anne again, O Household Ass! W.H., a knave, is “I”-ing 80 hung, rosy engines; Johannes Hall; I have seen th’ Hun, Grecian Janus holy; know Saul’s immersion
          9) hovel; O, how S. Hall’s homme errs; red itch-hole doubt; neighbor idle; neigh bridal
        10) Anne tickled Ed
        10-11) aye in Dick, I, laddie-donor, shamefully misplace tussle
        11) panting, omit aye tea’s keg
        11-12) Titus, see Hecuba’s “O”
        11-14) W.H., (ass-holed) yes, hauled sails, a-panting, “Aye my tight ass-cheek be farty,” golden tresses [scatological] oft he did (...heated), their outward hues…
        12) before the guild, entré; address a sauced idiot
        12-13) be his word heckled entre s’s o’ fetid editor; hated Herod were dead, us without war; O, you turd!
        13) peer-ass is zero-end; précises see runed
        13-14) eye his ass, sir, own De Soto; hard Paris I seek round Southy; peeresses surround Southy
        14) Southy, O, you bigot, if Leander doth beauty “prow”; butt approve; good offal Anne dear doth but approve; Sot Hopgood is lying, dirty oat; Southy be God’s Leander

Acrostic Wit

          The most visibly emphatic (i.e., the downward) acrostic codeline—NOON I MH WO A WB TS—encodes such potentialities as these: “None eye m’ woe, a web ‘tis,” “…a vapid ass,” “Noon, eye m’ hue, O [a pictographic sun] beats,” “Know nigh, Mab ’tis,” “Anon, eye m’ woe: Obits.,” “Noon, 1 May, woe, I wept. S. (…woe awaits),” and “Noon, 1 May 08 ’tis [B=8].” The last possibility exemplifies a “dateline,” intriguing but typically inconclusive.

           The upward codeline—ST B WAOWH MI NOON—suggests, e.g., “Saint be womb, my nun [noon],” “Shakespeare [= st] be Womb Minoan,” “Shakespeare boy, woman own [i.e., may recognize, admit, use],”“St. be woman, OO [= look] in!” “State [B=8] women own.”

           The up/down hairpin code suggests “Sainted [B=8] woman, on none (...nun; ...Onan) I mate [B=8]. S.”

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