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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 VIII, Runes 99-112: Texts and Comments
Copyright © Roy Neil Graves 2003, All Rights Reserved        

             
Proceed to Rune 101
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Rune 100A,
Second lines in Set VIII (Sonnets 99-112)

Rune 100B, Third line in Sonnet 99
and Second lines in Sonnets 100-112


 
                        Rune 100A

      (Second lines, Set VIII: Sonnets 99-112)

     Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells—
     To speak of that which gives thee all thy might?
     For thy neglect of truth, in beauty died,
 4  I love not less, though less the show appear,
     That having such a scope to show her pride.
     For as you were when first your eye I eyed,
     Not, my beloved, as an idol show,
 8  I see descriptions of the fairest wights
     Of the wide world, dreaming on things to come
     Which hath not figured to thee, my true spirit.
     Though absence seemed my flame to qualify
12 
And made myself a motley to thee, view
     The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds
     Which “Vulgar Scandal” stamped upon my brow.
__________
     Glosses: 1) steal = obtain, hide; 3) died suggests “dyed”; 4) though...appear = though I see you seldom; 5) That suggests beauty, the show, the friend being addressed; 6) eye suggests a pun on phallic “I”; 7) idol (Q Idoll) puns on idle and “‘I’-doll/dull,” a phallic epithet (see 4); 8) I see puns on IC = 99, the number of the preceding rune; wights = creatures, suggesting the pun “wits”; 9) things to come is a phallic pun; 10) figured = added up, equaled (with innuendo about phallic measurement); 12) a motley = a fool in chequered dress; 13) goddess = Beauty (see 3), and thus the friend; punningly, also Anne (see And in 12); 12) pun: “Witch W. S.,” with Vu...S... suggesting W.S.

                             Rune 100B

(Third line, Sonnet 99, + 2nd lines, Sonnets 100-112)


     If not from my love’s breath, the purple pride—
     To speak of that which gives thee all thy might—
     For thy neglect, of truth, in beauty died;
 4
  I love not less (though less the show appear)
     That, having such a scope to show her pride
     Fore, as you were when first your “I” I eyed,
     Not, my beloved, as an idolo show.
 8  I see descriptions of the fairest wights
     Of the wide world, dreaming on things to come
     Which hath not figured to thee, my true spirit.
     Though absence seemed my flame to qualify
12 
And made myself a motley to thee, view
     The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds
     Which “Vulgar Scandal” stamped upon my brow!
__________
     Glosses: 1) purple pride is phallically suggestive; 2) To speak puns on “To his peak” (phallic); 3) For thy neglect puns, “Frothy (Forth, high...) ‘angle’ eased”; 4) though...appear = though I see you seldom; 5) That suggests the phallus; 6) Fore, as you were when puns on “Fore, azure wen...,” echoing purple pride in 1; 7) an idol puns on “...idle” (see 4) and “‘I’-doll”; 8) I see puns on IC = 99, the number of the preceding rune; wights = creatures, suggesting “wits”; 9) things to come = phalluses; 10) figured = added up, equaled (with innuendo about phallic measurement); true puns on “erect,” “right-angled”; spirit suggests ejaculated fluid and puns on “spurt” and “...speare”; 11) absence puns on absinthes (suggesting a bad taste); 12) a motley = a fool in chequered dress, linked with the pun “...aye motley, toothy”; 13) goddess = suggesting beauty (see 3), with phallic overtones; punningly, also Anne (see And in 12); 12) scandal puns on “ass-candle” and “assy handle,” a phallic conceit; brow puns on “burrow,” suggesting “crack,” asshole.


     100A. Vulgar Scandal, Idle Show

     Sweet thief, where did you steal your fragrant sweetness? Where have you been hiding it?
     (I mention your strongest attribute.)
     The fact that your beauty seems to vanquish reliability and substance
  4 doesn’t make me love any less (though I may see you less often, and though a lack of integrity would always seem to diminish beauty)
     that beauty which in you has such liberty and range to display herself.
     Standing in for you as you used to be when I first looked into your eye—
     not, my love, an idle display, a showy decorated object to adore—
  8 I see pictured the most beautiful creatures, wits, men
     of the world—imagining the best endowed men that might ever be—
     but these have not equaled you, my true spirit, nor shown you fairly.
     Although our dissociation seemed to make the light of reason or flame of passion burn less brightly in me
12 and seemed to make me your jester, dressed in patchwork, you should examine
     yourself too—the guilty goddess who has inspired my errors
     and stamped “Vulgar Scandal” on my forehead.


    100B. Dreaming on Things to Come

     Not reacting to my affectionate bluster or the heat of my breath, your “purple pride”
     (to bring up your strongest attribute, indeed your only real claim to fame)
     “died” handsomely because, to be honest, you neglected her.
  4 Although her showy display has abated, my affection isn’t lessened for
     what once had such liberty and range to show her beauty
     right up front, ever since I first spied your (shall we say) “I-beam”—
     not, my love, just an “idle” display or merely an ostentatious thing to adore.
  8 I’ve read about the most beautiful creatures
     in the whole world, imagining the best endowed men that might ever be,
     but nothing has ever measured up to you—my right-angled spirit, my seminal force.
     Although our being apart may have seemed to cool my ardor, making my love-flare sputter
12 and turning me into one of your jesters dressed in patchwork, just look at
     this “bad girl” of my own
     that has given me a reputation tainted with vulgar scandal, branded me with initials (crotch- like “V” and ass-like “S”) that vary my real ones. (Not quite a laurel wreath, is it?)



Comments: 100A

          This vaguely biographical apostrophe blames the muse partly for the poet’s “harmful deeds” (13)—maybe illicit friendship, but also the “errors” in these “motley” runic shows (see 12).

           The usual diction about writing occurs here. Another cluster about “show,” applicable to the superficial friend, applies to Will’s writing, too. These negative conceits begin with “sweet thief” (1), which sets the oxymoronic tone. “Steal” (take unlawfully, leave) and “smells” (gives off perfume, stinks) both embody ambivalences (1). The often-absent muse (1, 4)—who has “neglected truth” (3) but shows the whole range of beauty (4-5)—is “an idol show” (7) and also “the guilty goddess (good ass) of my harmful deeds” (13). Still, the friend is beloved (4, 7, 10) and incomparable (8-10). The poet is to him “a motley” (12)—a clown garbed here in runic patchwork. Ironically, the friend who “neglects truth” (see 3) is “my true spirit” (10). The final comments (11-14), typically balanced, focus on what Will has become and on how the friend has shaped him.

          “Show” occurs thrice (4, 5, 7), and its synonyms and correlatives (as verb and noun) are rampant: smell, beauty, dyed, appear, pride, were, eye, see, descriptions, fair[ness], dream, figure (i.e., represent), seem, view, deeds, “stamped upon my brow [i.e., apparent].” Foiling these are antitheses—absence, neglect (omission), died, steal (take away), less, not, qualify (diminish). The whole poem is in fact an exercise in “showing” what is and is not. The special meaning of “description” (8) in logic—”a definition by non-essential attributes” (1628)—also fits.

           If “Idol/Idle Show” mostly describes the muse, “Vulgar Scandal”—with initials “Vu. [i.e., W.] S.”—fits Will, while encoding multiple puns: “Vulgar S-candle” plays against “my flame” (11). “Ass, see an awl” invites a reading of the whole poem for phallic play, where “things to come” (9) are phalluses and the end-joke may sketch a penis hanging from Will’s brow—a “vulgar ass-candle, an “eyed awl.”

           A concurrent joke is about “F[ulke] Sandells”—who helped the poet get married (see the Index to Subtextual Terms for places where the name crops up elsewhere). “Vulgar scandall” reverses to llad n acs rag luv, encoding “lad (lady) an’ asses rage, love,” etc., while “Idol show” reverses to wohs lod I—encoding “woes laud I” and the like.

           “Clothing” jokes occur in “motley,” “dyed,” “seamed, maize (my ass) lamé (11), and “Steel thy suit that smells” (1)—the last about smelly armor.

           “Anne jokes” include the charge, “Anne made myself a motley to the view, / The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds” (12-13).

Comments: 100B

          Phallic suggestiveness and a whiff of oral sex in the “new” first line encourage pursuing phallocentric and homosexual wit in this mock-serious tribute and lament. Envisioning “the purple pride’s death in beauty” as a heterosexual event gives the muse (who’s not clearly gendered) a “good goddess” to cavort with—and Will a “guilty” one to suffer from, maybe the “mss.” herself. “Your ‘eye’ I ‘I’d’” puns about a different scenario, since “eye/I” is a recurrent phallic pictograph, with “eye” suggesting “testicle.” “Fore” and “I” (6) dot Q’s text. Things to come (9) puns, “penises to experience sexual emission” (see, e.g., Partridge 89, 203).


Sample Puns

100A

           1) Sue 80 see, whence? W., Hen., see, dead; Swede heavy W.H. enseeded; W.H. enseeded Shakespeare; stealthy feud (foot); T.T. (Swede), Hat., see, female ass; a lady’s witty thought see

100B

          1) Aye, ass, notice Rome mellow; we separate it, help you
          1-2) Eye snot-form, (Eyes note form...,) my loose breath, t’ help your appeal, th’ right to speak of that Witch-Jew Southy, a lady midget

100A and 100B

          2) Tough pig (pique) oft Hat.-Witch gives thee; a gift t’ Hat., W.H., I see; Tough pee, Kiev, the two I see
          2-3) Oft Hat.-Witch, Ju[dy?], Southy, Hall, Tommy—I jet, farty in eagle’s tuft; metaphored, high, an eagle see
          3) Farty necklace, tossed, rude, in bawdy dyed
          3-4) eye delving, odd lass, th’ ugliest thief
          4) Aye low, knot laughed, howls the fop, peer; idol often ought laugh; lass sights Hooper
          4-5) Hooper t’ Hat. heaving, f--ks copied “O”; a peer thought hoeing such a scope (…f--ks ass); Appeared Hathaway, in jest you see her ass cooped; That half-inch f--k, a scope to shower pride
          5) tough whore peer eyed
          5-6) to show her period, sore ass (fore a sewer); peer I defer, assuring sir fitter aid; sharper-eyed four assure W.H.
          6) Forest, you worry W.H.; If our azure wen stirs, Tower eye; Sir, a sewer, W., Hen., first your “I” I eyed
          6-7) I eye dinner, my bloody dais, an idle show; eye Judy, Anne, or maybe ludus
          7) bill Ovid as a knight
          7-8) aye Seine idle shows, hideous sea; design I doll’s house hideous; Anne, or my beloved Ass-Anne, idle foe I see, deaf, creep; shun sauce the fairest wights; sourest wits; Olivia I see; wise; house
          8) I see IC = 99 [cf. Rune 99.1]; icy; eye fetus, see ripe scion (sign) soft
          8-9) shun soft heifer, assed wight soft
          9) Oft you eyed W., Earl, dreaming on things to come; in John the inches, too, come; inches two; Auntie guessed, “Occam?”; …gassed Occam
          9-10) Togo mew, Hecate henna’d
        10) Witch Hath, knotty figure, did owe [i.e., own, acknowledge] theme yet; my true S.-pirate; W.H. eye chatting, odd-figured, too; taut hymn, yet ruse, peer eyed
        11) Egypt is in sesamed ms., lame, too; absinthes
        11-12) lame dog (duck) you all eye, fiend mad; sin see, femme, dame, yes, lame too, quail is aye Anne, maid, miss—else emote “lady”; thief; ewe
        12) Animate myself aye; Animate, Ms. F eye (fey); Handmaid, miss, ’ll seem oddly toothy; Anne made missal famed, odd
        12-13) heavy wit heckled aye God deaf
        12-14) Anne made myself a motley to the view, the guilty goddess of my harmful deeds, witch vulgar, scandal stamped upon my brow
        13) eye God’s fief, my harem full; mere hymns you leaded
        13-14) sewage vulgar fecund Hall stampt upon my brow
        14) Which vulgar f--ks Anne dull stamped…; see Anne dull, Shakespeare empty, a pun my B-row; vulgar is candle stamped upon my B-row (burrow); Hall is to empty weapon, maybe row (…my B-row); Witch vultures see, Anne dull, fit empty, a pun, hymn, webby row; “liquor” scanned Hall


Acrostic wit: 100A

          The downward acrostic codeline—ST FIT F NIOWTA TW—conveys such potential decodings as these samples: “Shakespeare Fit [Stanza] F, naughty, too” (using ST = st = the conventional family name cipher); “Stuffed fin 10, witty too”; “Stiff, tough, knighted W.”; “Stiff ‘I’ tease [F=S] knighted W.”; “Saint sights noted W”; “Shakespeare fits, naughty [knotty] two”; “Stiff aye, tough Nate ate W.”; “Stiff tiff noted (nuded) W.”; and “Stuff it, if knight ate you,” with plays on W as (pudendal) “wen.”

          The upward (reverse) codeline—WT A TWO IN FT IF TS—suggests, e.g., “Wit, eye two in fit [i.e., stanza]—it ’tis,” “Witty twins, tie-fits,” and “Witty twin fit, eye fits [cf. ‘See the two-in-one set here’].” With FT = ST, then “fit” = “set.”

100B

          The downward codeline—I TFIT FNIOWT AT W—replaces S with I, yielding such potential readings as “Eyed fit [stanza], finite 8. [signed] W.,” “I defied finite 8…,” “I defy tough knight (...night), I do (at W...),” “I defy t’ offend…,” and “It fit….”

          The upward reverse of this codeline—WT A TWOIN FT I FT I—may be decoded, e.g., to mean, “Wit, eye twain, Fit [i.e., Stanza] I, Fit I.”

          In both the A and B variants of the acrostic codeline, hairpin (i.e., down/up and up/down) readings are possible.

             
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