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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 108
Return to the Index of Set VIII

Rune 107A,
Ninth lines in Set VIII (Sonnets 99-112)
Rune 107B, Tenth line in Sonnet 99
and Ninth lines in Sonnets 100-112


                        Rune 107A

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

     Our blushing shame, another white despair!
     Rise, resty muse, my love’s sweet face survey:
     Because he needs no praise, wilt thou be dumb?
 4  Not that the summer is less pleasant now.
     Were it not sinful, then, striving to mend?
     “Ah, yet doth beauty like a dial hand,
     Fair, kind, and true,” is all my argument;
 8  So, all their praises are but prophesies.
     Now, with the drops of this most balmy time
     So, that eternal love. In love’s fresh case,
     Never believe (though in my nature reigned
12 Now) all is done. Have what shall have no end,
     Whilst like a willing patient I will drink:
     In so profound abysm I throw all care.
__________
     Glosses: 1) white dispair = ghostly pallor, empty page; 4) Not...: (also Note...); 5) to mend = improve (...his face, my poems), change; 6) doth = does, acts (like); 7) ..is all puns “...eye S. Hall...,” “...is Hall...,” pointing to Will’s daughter and son-in-law, Sue (Susanna) and Dr. John Hall; 8) their = belonging to the positive attributes named in 7; So, all their puns “Sue Hall, th’ heir”; 9) this...time = summer (see 4); 10) So puns on Sue; that eternal love (imper.) = love what is eternal; 11-12) in my nature reigned / Now = the Present dominated my life; shall have no end puns “S. Hall heaven owned”; 13) nameplays include “Will Shakespeare [st = the Shakespeare name cipher, an S “shaking” a pictographic, spear-like t],” with puns in “Will-ing,” “Will”; 14) so puns on Sue (see 8, 10); all puns on Hall (see 7, 8, 12); all care puns “ulcer,” a gesture to Dr. Hall, a physician—and also a biblical allusion (see St. John 5:1-18).



                       Rune 107B

(Tenth line, Sonnet 99, + Ninth lines, Sonnets 100-112)

     A third, nor red nor white, had stol’n of both:
     Rise, resty muse, my love’s sweet face survey.
     Because he needs no praise, wilt thou be dumb?
 4  Not that the summer is less pleasant now.
     Were it not sinful, then, striving to mend?
     “Ah, yet doth beauty like a dial hand,
     Fair, kind, and true,” is all my argument;
 8  So, all their praises are but prophesies.
     Now, with the drops of this most balmy time
     So, that eternal love. In love’s fresh case,
     Never believe (though in my nature reigned
12 Now) all is done. Have what shall have no end,
     Whilst like a willing patient I will drink:
     In so profound abysm I throw all care.
__________
     Glosses: 1) third puns on “turd”; had puns on “head” (see face in 2); 4) Not...: (also Note...); 5) to mend = improve (...his face, my poems), change; 6) doth = does, acts (like); 7) ..is all puns “...eye S. Hall...,” “...is Hall...,” pointing to Will’s daughter and son-in-law, Sue (Susanna) and Dr. John Hall; 8) their = belonging to the positive attributes named in 7; So, all their puns “Sue Hall, th’ heir”; 9) this...time = summer (see 4); 10) So puns on Sue; that eternal love (imper.) = love what is eternal; 11-12) in my nature reigned / Now = the Present dominated my life; shall have no end puns “S. Hall heaven owned”; 13) nameplays include “Will Shakespeare [st = the Shakespeare name cipher, an S “shaking” a pictographic, spear-like t],” with puns in “Will-ing,” “Will”; 14) so puns on Sue (see 8, 10); all puns on Hall (see 7, 8, 12); all care puns “ulcer,” a gesture to Dr. Hall, a physician—and also a biblical allusion (see St. John 5:1-18).


     107A. In So Profound Abysm (I)

     Another time of pale despair, another empty blank, making a writer blush!
     Arise, sluggish inspiration, and survey my love’s sweet face!
     Will you be silent just because he needs no praise?
  4 Admittedly this languid summertime is pleasant.
     Wouldn’t it be sinful, then, to try to mend one’s ways or to patch what’s already perfect?
     “Beauty makes steady progress anyway, like the hands of a timepiece,
     attractive, attentive, and accurate”—that’s my whole thesis.
  8 Thus praises of beauty’s attributes are like self-fulfilling prophesies.
     Now, with fragrant showers of this balmy summer
     felt as they are, love what is eternal. In the present case of love, which is always new,
     never think (though my nature was dominated by
12 the transitory present) that everything is over or that nothing is to be done. Enjoy the eternal
     while I, like a “self-Willed” sick man, drink:
     Into what a deep crevasse, a bottomless pool, I focus my total attention and put my faith!


     107B. In So Profound Abysm (II)

     Something appeared that was tinged with red and white but wasn’t really either one:
     Arise, sluggish inspiration, and survey my love’s sweet face!
     Will you be silent just because he needs no praise?
  4 Admittedly this languid summertime is pleasant.
     Wouldn’t it be sinful, then, to try to mend one’s ways or to patch what’s already perfect?
     “Beauty makes steady progress anyway, like the hands of a timepiece,
     attractive, attentive, and accurate”—that’s my whole thesis.
  8 Thus praises of beauty’s attributes are like self-fulfilling prophesies.
     Now, with fragrant showers of this balmy summer
     felt as they are, love what is eternal. In the present case of love, which is always new,
     never think (though my nature was dominated by
12 the transitory present) that everything is over or that nothing is to be done. Enjoy the eternal
     while I, like a “self-Willed” sick man, drink:
     Into what a deep crevasse, a bottomless pool, I focus my total attention and put my faith!


Comments: 107A

         In this variant of Rune 107, it’s hard to tell who’s lazy about praising whom, since the face Will is surveying (2) may be his own. Still, the ostensible theme—that the friend’s ideal beauty needs no active perpetuation—helps Will rationalize his unproductive poems.

          Amid “religious” diction and terms about liquids, sickness and healing, and time and eternity, the rune introduces ironic parallels with Jesus’ healing the impotent man at the pool of Bethesda (see St. John 5:1-18, Geneva Bible)—the one whom Jesus asks, “Wilt [my emphasis] thou be made whole?” and tells, “Rise: take vp thy bed, and walke.” Will’s diction sounds echoic. “Were it not sinful… striving to mend” (5) even restates the Jews’ view that the healing was unlawful on the Sabbath, and “Their praises [ironic] are but prophesies” (8) may allude to the Jews’ strengthened resolution, after this incident, to slay Jesus—whose “whole argument” was “fair, kind, and true” (7). The pun “Like a willing, patient ewe ill, drink” (13) may originate in the expository phrase “by the place of the shepe, a poole….”

          “Love’s fresh case” (10, my emphasis) puns on a timepiece and helping explain “beauty like a dial hand” (6) and “drops of…time” (9). The phrase also parallels the KJB diction “a long time in that case,” italicized. This wording varies the Geneva Bible’s phrase “...lo[n]g time had bene diseased” (St. John 5: 6). Some scholar(s) on the KJB committee, I think, may have been in Will’s mind as audience for his coy Biblical references; conversely, such coterie auditors might have responded by adapting some of Will’s own phrasing in their translation of this or of other passages that the Q materials allude to.

          While line 1 suggests paleness and fever, “profound abysm” (14) implies an inky hell within whose depths, as the final pun says, we “eye th’ raw ulcer.” Resty (2) suggests “rancid” (1671) and “fallow” (1642). “I soil my argument” (7) and “We writ knot sinful" (5) point to “sacrilege.”

Comments: 107B

          The phrase my love’s sweet face (2) focuses and defines the vague first line here. Though the suggestion of a pale complexion and reddened cheeks and lips might imply a female countenance—as do persistent puns on “Sue” and “Sue Hall” (7, 8, 10, 12, 14)—the poem establishes the poet’s “love” as masculine unless “he” (3) means the beloved’s face, and not the face’s owner.

          The Runepoet enjoys such tricks, along with such distressing scatology as the pun “turd” (1), which smears the text early and suggests that, on the lowest level, the profound abysm here (14) may be the loo.

          Phallic bawdry and suggestions of oral sex complicate the poem with puns about a phallic pointer (6), an “awl” (8, 12, 14), “balmy drops” (9), “love’s fresh case” (10), “drinking” (13), and putting “awl care (awls hairy, awl sere)” into a crevice. Even the resty muse that’s ordered to rise (2) may well be a phallus, making line 1 describe its red-to-pink-to-white coloration.

           One sense of the opening may be, “Stop looking at my love’s groin and notice his face (or hers)!”

          The poet’s punning predisposition intrudes almost (no pun meant) overtly in the closing namepuns (13). Still, the poem can be read straight, with bawdy static blocked out, as the restatement below tries to do.


Sample Puns

107A

         1) Whore below, f---ing S., Hamnet; Ham, another white despair [cf. ghost]; a minute hear; Our blushing fame, Anne, Othe rude, deaf pee-er; Hymen ode heard deaf peer; I know the Rood
         1-2) the rudest peer, Anne; Our bluff [blustering] inches Hamnet heard, deaf peer, rise

107B

         1) At our dinner, Ed [i.e., editor? Thomas Thorpe?] entered Hades, too lean; in our Eden, whore W.H. eyed
         1-2) Hades-tollings bawdy hear, afire (...affairs tame you see, my love...)

107A and 107B

         2) Rife our Shakespeare hymn you see; loaves; rise, rise, Thames, my love is sweet
         2-3) mellow V’s [groin’s] sweet sauce furry be coffin (coughing); a sieve you rob, easy, you fiend; you rob coffin, Ed’s knob raise
         3) kneads; know, peer, I aye fueled th’ O; peer, aye Isolde thou bed; an opera see, willed
         3-4) I aye felt thou be dumb; bed homme, be naughty, T.T., his homme-arse’ll ass please; homme noted this homme Meres
         4) the fume merry slays pleasant Anne; lass feeble isn’t Anne
         4-5) Meres, less pleasant now, worried knot; Mary; merry is lass, pleasant enow; eyes laugh, seep, elephant in O—were it not? (we writ not); t’ know a written ode is insulting
         5) note ass, John Fulton, striving; We retinue tease, insulting fit, arriving gentlemen; insulting fit a raving gentleman; Weird knot offends you, let in Shakespeare rune, jet o’ m’ Anne; striving tome-end
         5-6) riving, ptomaine diet doth bode yellow kettle, handy
         6) Ah, ye et dough; lick odd Y, “awling”; die, Hall handy
         6-7) eye Kyd, yellow and deaf, hairy, kind, and true 7 F--king dandy t’ rue is Hall; in dead ruse’ll Meyer, Jew, mend; eye solemner Jew; in dean did rue, eisell march; Fairy key Indian did rue; ’Rusalem our Jew meant ; I sail
         7-8) Fair, kind, and true, eye S. Hall, my argument, Sue Hall, th’ heir; March you meant, soldier aye; you meant Sue Hall t’ hear praise; I soil my argument, soil th’ air
         8) t’ Harry, Paris is our bawdy prop, heavy ass
         9) An “O” witty had Row P, soft, his most balmy time [i.e., meter]; moist belle meade eye
         8-10) peer, eye ass, our butt, prow feces now, witty the drops of this moist ball, mighty mess; feces now witty drops oft, his moist ball, Tommy’s
         9-10) meaty miss ought Hat. eat, earn Hall-love; Tybalt medium sought
       10) hated urn, awl-loving, low is (loves fresh café); tea eternal; Sue, thought eternal loving; John loves fresh coffee
       10-11) Southy, tethering Hall, lowing low, suffers hisses new; fresh coffee in your belly; See a scene: Vere believed Hugh-John, miniature, reigned
       11) In herbal Eve thou gin; gin miniature reigned (rained); Neuer rune [reversed]; Rune be-leaved, Hugh-John miniature reigned
       11-12) miniature Regan, Dane, all eye; Donnally
       12) Now all eye Sidney (Sidon), have what shall have no end; In oil, eye Satan; Know Wallace, Donne, haughty S. Hall; Now all eye Satan, half W.H.; Know Hall, eye sad one, Hathaway, ’tis Hall; Hathaway t’ S. Hall, “Have no end”; Is Donau [Danube] wide, shallow?
       12-13) W.H., eye Tivoli, in undue hills till I call; if Holy Avenue end, we’ll fiddle
       13) lie, cooling patient, Jew ill (jewel); equal, alien [&] gypsy eye
       13-14) eye quill, in gypsy joined—jewel, daring kin; you’ll dry ink eye in so profound abysm; Will Shakespeare, like a “Willing” patient I, Will, drink in Sue profound, Abbie’s [i.e., Elizabeth’s] mother, O Hall, see her! like a Willing patient I Willed her kin, Sue th’ row found—A/B is mighty row; I see Yentl (Gentile) drinking supper of hound, eye beef, meat, her ulcer
       14) Israel, “tongue-tied” [Q I throw all]; A/B’s mother, O, all [other letters], “C” her; myth roils [i.e., agitates] her; in abysm…I throw ulcer [cf. “patient” (13)]; meet hero, John [w=IN] Hall, seer; In vapor, O fon, dabs m’ eye t’ Hero, all see her; eyed here O. Walker; mete, uteral care [see acrostic wit, below]; eye Semite hero; in…[an] abysm I throw Walker


Acrostic Wit

107A

          The downward codelineORB NW A F SNS NNW I—may mean, e.g., “Orb new, half’s in sin, why?” “Orb new eye, face and sinew,” “Our B, new half, sense anew aye [cf. the B variants in Set VIII],” “O, Whore been W., half-sense knew I,” “…half-sensing new ‘I’ [phallic],” “Oar be in waves, and ice NNW eye,”and/or “Oar be in waves, SNSNNW [a nonsensical nautical direction] aye.” (“…SNS anew eye” suggests a confused compass.) These last readings imply, “Lost at sea with a screwed-up compass.”

          Other readings include “Our bane, Wife S., in sin knew I (...anew eye),” “Urbane wife sins anew, aye,” and “Urban wife is in sin.Why?”

          The upward (reverse)
code—I WNNSN S F AWN BRO—suggests, e.g., “Eye wincing [i.e., involuntarily kicking] ass, O, fon brother,” “Aye whining is nice fa in B-row,” “…fawn burrow,” “Eye wincing ass, fon brow,” and “Winds nice, saw in utero [B=8, F=S].” Another reading is “I wince in ass, fon [i.e., silly] burrow.”

          The usual rule in Q applies: No option rules out any other.

107B

          In the downward emphatic acrostic codeline of 107B, an initial A replaces the initial O in the 107A acrostic, admitting slight but strategic variants. The B variant—A RBN WAFS N SNN WI—suggests, e.g., such readings as these: “A ribbon waves, nice Anne new eye,” “Ire be new wave, sense new eye (sins knew I),” “‘I err’ be new, Wife S. in sin knew I,” “Our bane, Wife S., in sin knew I (new eye),” “Urbane wife sins anew, aye” (as in the 107A codeline), and “A ribbon waves in sin. Why?”

          An intriguing possibility is that AR BN suggests “hairpin,” the designation that I have deduced otherwise from cumulative evidence for naming the down/up and up/down variants of the acrostic codelines. Thus one may decode the encrypted reading, “Hairpin waves (...weaves) in sin.Why?”

           The upward codelineI WNNS N SFAWNBRA—can be read, e.g., to mean, “I wince in ass fon, bray,” “Eye wench, an ass fon, bray (bare aye),” “I, wenching ass of Anne, bray,” “‘I’-winch in ass of Anne burrow (bare eye),” “You in Anne sin, ass fon, bray,” “You in Anne sense foe, N.B. her ‘eye’,” “Eye wenching ass fon in beer aye,” and/or “…nip (nib) her aye (‘eye’).”

             
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