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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 70
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Rune 69
Thirteenth lines, Set V (Sonnets 57-70)

                          Rune 69

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

     So true a fool is love, that in your will
     I am to wait, though waiting so be hell.
     Oh, sure, I am the wits of former days;
 4  And yet to times in hope, my verse shall stand.
     For thee watch I, whilst thou dost wake elsewhere;
     His beauty shall in these black lines be seen—
 8  This thought is as a death which cannot choose,
     Oh, none; unless this miracle have might,
     Tired with all these, from these would I be gone!
     Oh, him she stores, to show what wealth she had,
12 And him as for a map doth Nature store.
     But why thy odor matcheth not thy show?
     If some suspect of ill, masked knot thy show.
     Glosses: 1) will puns on Will (and in your will suggests “in my person”); in puns on Anne as well as John; 1-2) will / I am puns, “William”2) other family namepuns: Hamnet (I am t...), Sue (so), Hall (hell); 4) pun: “two times in hope,” i.e., ”twice anticipated,” “doubly put forth ”; shall puns on S[ue] Hall (see 7, etc.); 7) His points to thee/myself in 6; 11) him points to this miracle (9), punning on hymn and Ham; 13) odor puns on “ode-er,” i.e., ode-writer, poet; not thy puns on knotty (i.e., riddlic, difficult) and naughty; 14) knot (Q not), the subject of masked = the (hard) poem. One form of an opening pun about Anne’s obesity (1-2) is this: “So true a fool I—slave t’ Hat., Anne [= in]—your William to weighty ‘Hath-weighty’ inches: O [here, a pictograph for a rotund person, but also suggesting round/rune] be hell.” “Obey I aye”(code ...o be hell,) is an alternate ending.

     69. These Black Lines

     Love is such an utter and faithful fool that at your service I,
     Will, can only wait, though such waiting is hell.
     Oh, certainly I am the medieval clown, perpetuating this old game,
  4 and yet my verse shall stand in time to come.
     I keep my eye on you, but you open your eyes elsewhere;
     it’s both of us together that I exalt, of my own accord.
     In these black lines the both of us shall be seen.
  8 This thought, which seems as involuntary as death, spells my fate and leaves me no choice,
     alas, none. Unless this unique project is to develop momentum and gain power over readers
     I feel like quitting, for I’m tired of all these verses.
     Oh, nature treasures this miraculous man (and his hymns) to show what wealth she had,
12 and she stores him as a chart and guide for future times.
     Now why, my friend, do the poet’s hints in verse not match your fine reality?
     If some suspect you’re sick or bad—or suspect some illicit relationship between us—a knotty poem has masked whatever reality you display.


          This primary collection of couplet lines from Set V tends itself to fall into couplets, with approximate (and funny) rhyme in Will/hell (1-2), incidental rhyme in days/praise (3, 6), and exact rhymepuns in knotty show/knotty show (13-14). (The play “oder [i.e., poet] matcheth ‘knotty show’” in line 13 comments on this odd “matching” phenomenon.)

           As usual the point of view, especially the person, is ambivalent. The equations I = “your Will” and “thee/myself” (1, 6)—the latter perhaps echoing “69” as a pair of inversely linked numerals—imply a conventional, paradoxical union of muse and writer, so that “he” (7, 11-12) means this miraculous duality (9), which “stores wealth.” “Tired” (10) puns on “attired” and on “tiered” as “overlaid.” “Thee” (13-14) seems to address the friend, with “thy odor” punning on “your poet [oder]” to put Will in the same “mismatched” relationship to the friend as body odor is to a man.

           Puns on “knot” (13, 14) also twist and pervert textual connections.

          Like others in this set and elsewhere, this text about Will as writer focuses on his verse and its purposes and effects. Here he is “a fool” (1) like “the wits of former days” (3), a medieval clown who “waits” (2) in a servant role, “watches” (5), “praises” (6), lacks volition (8-9), gets “tired” (10), and puts on “thy show” (13, 14). The last phrase echoes puns in “His beauty [bawdy, body]…be seen/scene” (7) and “…shall stand” (4), as before an audience. “Be hell” (2) puns on “bell,” a suitable trapping for a clown. Conceits for the text itself include “these black lines” (7), “this miracle” (9), a treasury of “wealth” (11), and “a map” (12). Will’s hope for the future efficacy of his poems is relatively explicit in 4 and 9.

           The concept of “waking elsewhere” (5) seems vaguely Biblical, as do marginally sacrilegious plays in “I Am” (2) and “His Body” (7).

           “These black lines” (7) and the prepositive “she” (11) combine as an early adumbration of the Dark Mistress who by the ending of Q comes to represent a third, intervening figure in the cycle, the composition itself—a female personification controlling the fates of “thee/myself” by “storing” that entity, perhaps in “hell” (2). But here the feminine pronoun (11) glances forward to “Nature.”

           The pun on “Onan” (9) allies with “death which cannot choose” (8) to signal masturbatory humor. Though the general implications of Will’s servile and “masked, odorous” show make Southy seem likely as a principal auditor, the plays “…wood [crazy] aye be John” (10) and “beauty (bawdy) S. Hall in these [lines] be, Jack…” (7) point toward the poet’s son-in-law.

           The run-on nameplay “in your Will-I-am two wait” (1-2) lines out the name convincingly.

Sample Puns

           1) Ass owed Wriothesley his laud; Sue; Will; will [sexual drive]; Sought ruse, O aye lies low; So, t’ ruse olé’s low; aye slow the tenure
           1-2) Will-I-am; the tenure William taught; eye neural eye empty o’ wit; your Wm. tow-headed Hugh-John [=w] aiding
           2) I Am [sacrilege]; jammed “O” white, th’ huge white inches opal (Wyatt-inch supple); I am to John 8 [phallic, Biblical], thou Jew, 8 inches, O, be hell; God; jawed; aye empty o’ wit, thou Judy eye; waiting, Sue be Hall; twat; Waite; Tho. Wyatt
           2-3) foibles you rhyme 3 Hosier, eye empty hue; the wit soft our merd is; ore mired; you aye t’ suffer merdy ass; O’s you rhyme, the wit is of former days
           3-4) Merd-ass Anne dyed ode aye messy; aye in Dido Tommy is
           4) autumns eye in hope; hymn, aver Cecil’s t’ end
           4-5) two times in hope, my verse, S. Hall, stands o’er thee; two times seen, ope my verse, S. Hall, Shakespeare, Anne, farty watch I, Will Shakespeare
           5) out of two, aye “Kells” (heckles) you hear
           5-6) warty (worried) is this missal’s thought; thou dost wiggle, see W., Harry, teased
           6-7) fey, eye Paris, his beauty shall…be seen; praise His Body, fallen Thief
           7) beau, ’tis Helen; the sibyl aye see, clean as Bessie Anne; His beauty, S. Hall, …be seen; jackal
           8) eye sassy, dead Hugh-John in ode (I…note); Huge Anne
           8-9) choose Onan and laugh; thy summary’s leaf-hymn I jet; witch see, a knot, see hoof o’ nun, windlass, this miracle, half midget; as a death-witch, see Anne, aught, see hoof, “O” none
         10) Tired wit, eye Lethe, seize Rome, the fuel, day be gone; thief
         10-11) Would I be Jonah, him of history, ass, to show what (white) whale (this he had)
         11) O-hymn, she Shakespeare whore is, to show John, Hat., Will, this he had; O, Ham[net], sisters two, show what (Hat.) wealth she had, Anne. Ham[net] as for a map doth Nature store; too, show W.H. a tool, this he had
         11-12) to show John [w=in] Hath’way, let his head end (…Eden dim); fey, odd, eye Nemesis o’er a map; shittened emissary may pee doting “Adieu” (may be doting, doughty)
         12) dim ass-form, ape doth Nature store; maybe doughty Nate your ass tore; Anne dim, I (aye) suffer o’er a mapped [minutely recorded (OED)] oath in a dour Shakespeare whore
         12-14) your history, Beauty white, hid our mate, see Hath naughty shows, foams of piss; eased offal masked not thy foe         
         13) Butt, why thy odor, made shitting? Bawdy wight, you doormat, chit thin
         13-14) In odyssey’s foam, fuse piss t’ offal
         14) May’s getting hot, this owe [i.e., admit]

Acrostic Wit

          The downward codelineSI OAF THT O TO A B I—encodes such possible meanings as these: “Sigh, oaf, that ‘O’ to Abbie,” “Ass I owe faith to, to obey,” “Sigh, oaf, that oath to obey,” “Sift it, O…,” “Safety he taught. Why?…,” “Save th’ tot weighty,” and “Safety ladder [=H] to t’ abbey.”

          The upward codeline— I BAOT O TH TF AOIS—can be read, e.g., to mean “I bite O, th’ tough ass,” “Eye Betty, O that face!” “Abateth tough ass,” “Eye bawdy o’ Th.T. face,” “Eye aided oath’s ease [B=8, F=S].”

           The down/up hairpin rune suggests “Safe thought o’ Toby abated, hid face,” “Save that ode o’ a baby…,” and “See, oaf, that ‘O’ to obey. Eye Betty: O that face!”

Proceed to Rune 70
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