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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        

             

Click on a link below to see the text in paste-up, edited, and paraphrased forms, with sample puns and acrostic wit.
Rune 57
Rune 58
Rune 59
Rune 60
Rune 61
Rune 62
Rune 63
Rune 64
Rune 65
Rune 66
Rune 67
Rune 68
Rune 69
Rune 70

 
         Available here are Runes 57-70, 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 57 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 58 is the sequence of second lines in the 14 visible sonnets shown below, Rune 59 is the sequence of third lines, and so on through Rune 70.

           Clicking on a rune number in one of the boxes above (Runes 57-70) 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 V: Laboring for Invention

        This set houses several major sonnets on mutability, including Sonnets 60, 64, 65. Collectively the 28 texts here drift toward an emphasis on the poet’s obsequious role, insuring the friend’s permanence, through art, so as to record “what beauty was of yore” (Sonnet 68.14) for future ages, including ours; Will’s skepticism in his struggle is also a dominant topic in this set.

         Materials in the sonnets suggesting the flawed nature of both the poet and his subject (e.g., Sonnets 62, 67) color all the texts. Though some texts might be heard as addressing any current reader, the sense persists that Will has in mind some particular male auditor/muse with whom he shares a dark secret, though what the friend’s “sin” is remains mysterious. (Perhaps it is merely being a part of the coterie, with its School of Night aspects.)

         Adumbrations of the Dark Mistress (a conceit for the ms.) and the “other poet(s)” antagonistic to Will appear here and there in the set.

        Because the Sonnets themselves shift person (from “you” to “he” particularly), the Runes pick up a kind of name-that-pronoun ambiguity that usually is not such a factor in the overt texts. Here Sonnets 57-61 maintain a second-person address that Sonnet 62—where the paradoxical “thee/myself” intrudes—confounds. Sonnets 63-68 generally use the third person to speak of the friend. And the “couplet” texts on the leaf, Sonnets 69-70, return to second-person address. The upshot in the runes is ambiguity of reference; often the “he” pronouns gain new antecedents in context, ceasing to refer to the muse at all.

         While none of the Sonnets has ever been heard before to comment on the poet’s struggles with double composition—and on how the Q project itself makes “sins” inevitable—that topic is now insistent, and not just in the Runes. After the fact, it must hereafter be applied to the sonnet texts, too, to help us understand their fruitful possibilities. The opening of Sonnet 66, “Tired with all these…,” for example, now means much more to us than it did before. And “Those parts…the world’s eye doth view” (Sonnet 69.1) now must mean “the Sonnets—not the Runes.”

         Sonnet 66 offers an extended example of how we may now need to reapproach the Sonnets to find meaning we’ve been unaware of: Reading the opening “And’s” as “Anne’s” turns the poem into a catalog of parallel epithets, and a diatribe against the wife; one can almost hear her self-righteous self-descriptions (she’s “captive good,” attending “Captain Ill) and can laugh at Will’s pun “…from these wood [crazy] aye be John [Hall” (Sonnet 66.13).

         Among good titles that Will slips us within this set are “Windy Puffery” (see Rune 61), “Commend a Crow” (see Rune 60), and “The Ornament of Beauty is Suspect” (see Rune 59).

         The set leaf allows a player to skim left-to-right, top-to-bottom, across the emphatic letters BTIL / ISAVV / STAT / TT and read “Beetle eye saw stat (his tete), TT.” The reading “Betty (Bitty) Lisa, wise tot” jokes about Will’s new granddaughter, Elizabeth Hall. The vertical set-leaf code—B IS TSTT IAAT LWT—allows “Ate [8=B] is tasty, jawed hell-wit (…lewd)” and “Bess tested lute.”

         The most obvious diagonal code on the set-leaf—BITSSI TAL TAVVTT—encodes “Bitsy tail toyed (dowdy),” “Betsy told a witty…,” and “Betsy tail, too wet (…to wit).” Puns in the sonnets on “cheek” and “parts” (e.g., 68.1, 69.1) may have Betsy’s “bitsy tail” in mind.

         Egyptian and New World allusions in the subtexts continue to astound (see the Index to Subtextual Terms).  
    

             

Click on a link below to see the text in paste-up, edited, and paraphrased forms, with sample puns and acrostic wit.
Rune 57
Rune 58
Rune 59
Rune 60
Rune 61
Rune 62
Rune 63
Rune 64
Rune 65
Rune 66
Rune 67
Rune 68
Rune 69
Rune 70
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