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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 109
Return to the Index of Set VIII

Rune 108A,
Tenth lines in Set VIII (Sonnets 99-112)
Rune 108B, Eleventh line in Sonnet 99
and Tenth lines in Sonnets 100-112


                        Rune 108A

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

     A third, nor red nor white, had stol’n of both;
     If time have any wrinkle graven there,
     Excuse not silence so, for’t lies in thee.
 4  Then when her mournful hymns did hush the night
     To mar the subject that before was well,
     Steal from his figure, and no pace perceived,
     “Fair, kind, and true”—varying to other words—
 8  Of this our time, all you prefiguring.
     My love looks fresh, and death to me subscribes.
     Weighs not the dust and injury of age,
     All frailties that besiege all kinds of blood,
12 Mine appetite. I never more will grind
     Potions of eisell ’gainst my strong infection
     Of others’ voices that my adders sense.
__________
     Glosses: 1) A third (ambig.) implies Lips, A face, and puns “a turd”; 2) time puns on meter and on Tommy (Thorpe), Will’s printing agent; wrinkle puns on “mouth-slit,” “trick”; 3) Excuse = Pardon, Emit; for’t puns on “fart”; 4) her (ironic) = silence’s (see 3); 5) To puns on “Two (lips)”; 6) his puns on “hiss”; pace puns on “peace” (L.), paths; 7) to puns on two; 8) time = our era, meter (see note, 2); 9) to me subscribes = ...yields, with the puns “tome ‘shows writing below [the surface]’” and “Tommy yields to me”; 10) Weighs not the dust puns, “Weigh snot [‘Waste not’] adduced”; 11-12) blood / Mine puns, “be loo dim” (unconfirmed by OED), “be lewd hymn”; 13) eisell = vinegar; 14) others’ puns on “oathers’,” i.e., in-groupers sworn to secrecy; my adders (fig.) = writhing, snakelike lines, “added” incrementally; sense (v.) = detect.


                           Rune 108B

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

     And, too, his robb’ry had annexed thy breath,
     If time have any wrinkle graven there.
     Excuse not silence so, for’t lies in thee.
 4  Then when her mournful hymns did hush the night
     To mar the subject that before was well,
     Steal from his figure, and no pace perceived,
     “Fair, kind, and true”—varying to other words—
 8  Of this our time, all you prefiguring.
     My love looks fresh, and death to me subscribes.
     Weighs not the dust and injury of age,
     All frailties that besiege all kinds of blood,
12 Mine appetite. I never more will grind
     Potions of eisell ’gainst my strong infection
     Of others’ voices that my adders sense.
__________
     Glosses: 1) his = time’s (see 2); the line puns, “And [line] 2 is Row B, wry, odd, annexed hybrid”; 2) time puns on meter and on Tommy (Thorpe), Will’s printing agent; wrinkle puns on “mouth-slit,” “trick”; 3) Excuse = Pardon, Emit; for’t puns on “fart”; 4) her (ironic) = silence’s (see 3); 5) To puns on “Two (lips)”; 6) his puns on “hiss”; pace puns on “peace” (L.), paths; 7) to puns on two; 8) time = our era, meter (see note, 2); 9) to me subscribes = ...yields, with the puns “tome ‘shows writing below [the surface]’” and “Tommy yields to me”; 10) Weighs not the dust puns, “Weigh snot [‘Waste not’] adduced”; 11-12) blood / Mine puns, “be loo dim” (unconfirmed by OED), “be lewd hymn”; 13) eisell = vinegar; 14) others’ puns on “oathers’,” i.e., in-groupers sworn to secrecy; my adders (fig.) = writhing, snakelike lines, “added” incrementally; sense (v.) = detect.


     108A. My Adder’s Sense (I)

     Something neither red nor white—your lips, your face—combined both colors;
     if time (or verse) has engraved you with a mouth (or wit),
     stop issuing (and rationalizing) silence—which reflects your choice, rather than necessity, and doesn’t assert your truth.
  At a time when mournful hymns of silence hush the night
     to blemish the subject that once was a wellspring of perfection,
     there steal from one’s visage and tropes, quite imperceptibly,
     “Handsome, kind, and dependable” or some variation on those words,
  8 attributes of our Age, aspects of our metrical endeavor, all representing you.
     My love appears fresh, so death yields to me.
     To disregard the dust and indignity of aging—
     frailties that besiege all living creatures—
12 reflects my taste. I will never again grind out
     vinegar potions to heal my contagious infection
     of the voices of others stung by my writhing and figured—but now positive rather than negative—lines, incrementally added to the tally.


     108B. My Adder’s Sense (II)

     Thievish time might’ve dumbfounded or even killed you (or stopped speech on your behalf)
     if he were to’ve engraved any wrinkles on your mouth, or elsewhere on your countenance.
     Let’s not use such hypotheticals to explain the current silence, which instead reflects aspects of your reality and nature.
  4 Thus when mournful hymns of silence hush the night…
     to blemish the subject that once was a wellspring of perfection,
     there steal from one’s visage and tropes, quite imperceptibly,
     “Handsome, kind, and dependable” or some variation on those words,
  8 attributes of our Age, aspects of our metrical endeavor, all representing you.
     My love appears fresh, so death yields to me.
     To disregard the dust and indignity of aging—
     frailties that besiege all living creatures—
12 reflects my taste. I will never again grind out
     vinegar potions to heal my contagious infection
     of the voices of others stung by my writhing and figured—but now positive rather than negative—lines, incrementally added to the tally.


Comments: 108A

         The runes get off to quite different starts and take several lines before the senses of the two seem to merge. In 108A, Will’s mock-lament over the friend’s silence soon shifts into a compensatory mode. As the muse’s spokesman, Will hopes to overcome “time” (2, 8) and “the injury of age” (10) through rhetoric. The riddlic “third” thing (1) the poet mentions may be the auditor’s (pink and silent) lips, or his face—but also may be 1) a trick or joke; 2) form B of the rune; 3) the third word in line 7; 4) Satan in Eden; or 5) a fart or turd.

         In any case, “wrinkle” links images about marring, “figuring,” injury, and adders.

          Basically the “engraved wrinkle” (2) is a silent mouth, treated as a “marring” (5) or “injury of age” (10). Asking the auditor to speak up, Will shows interest in “my love’s [fresh] look” (9) and such “mouthy” figures as singing and quiet (4), appetite (12), voices (14), and “grinding” (12, implying “teeth”).

          The scenario
also seems Edenic, with “a third” (1) suggesting Satan, the “adder”—an analogue to Will, a “numbers man” or metricist. “Adders sense” (14) puns on “detect snakes”; and “wrinkle graven” (2) suggests “snake idolized.” Other details that point toward Eden are red and white (see apple, nakedness); “stealing” (1, 6); Excuse (3); “her [Eve’s?] ‘mornful’ hymns” (4); marring and wellness (5); “hiss figure” and stealth (6); prefiguration, taint, judgment (see “weighs”) , and death (see 8-13); “frailties” and “all kinds of blood” (11); appetite (12); and the puns “potions of Evil” (13) and “adder’s sins” (14). “A third” (1) that “var[ies] two other words” (7) and “steal[s] of both” (1) is also the inky adjective “true” (7), the third in a series, “neither read [pun: read] nor white [i.e., erased]” (1).

          Because eisell or vinegar (13) is an eradicator, the poet’s may be contemplating “erasure” (12-14).

          “Third” also means the uniquely added “B-rune variants” in Set VIII. Amid many words and puns about writing, “my Adders’ Sense” implies “meaning in my added-on, snakelike lines” and is an epithet for the supratextual lines and texts in Q. If what “steals” from the friend’s “wrinkle” is the indecorous outcome of breaking wind (see “f--t licensed he” [3]), this figure merges playfully with language about music—e.g., A third (1), “ground” (1, 12), time (2, 8), mournful hymns (4), and voices (14).

          Scatology also lurks: “A turd, nor red nor white, had stolen from thee” (1).

          If the snake’s “wrinkle” means man’s fall, Will’s “wrinkle” is human wit’s counteraction.

Comments: 108B

          Rune 108B opens, “And, too, his robb’ry had annexed thy breath, / If time have any wrinkle graven there.” And so on, as in 108A. The opening pun “And two…” seems to say, “Here’s a variant on the A text.” The new starting line also puns, e.g., “And [line] 2 is Row B, wry, odd, annexed hybrid,” “Aye in doubt, Oh, is row buried, hidden...,” “Anne dyed O’s [i.e., rune’s] Row B, writing…,” and the like. Lines 1-2 also suggest that the auditor friend may be speechless, dumbfounded at what he’s observing;

          The phrase others’ voices (14) brackets the poem self-consciously because the beginning presumes the listener/friend’s muteness. Such terms as appetite and grind (12) amplify this “oral” image cluster.

          Time
(2) explains the pre-positioned pronoun his (1) in this variant. The “wrinkle” that time might “engrave” suggests an age-line but also a mouth—because there (2) points to “where your breath is” (1). Since time denotes “meter,” any response the poet’s witty verse might “engrave” on the auditor’s face also come to mind, especially because wrinkle (2) means “trick or wile” (OED 1579). The silence the friend is asked not to excuse (3)—the mournful hymns that mar the text (4-5)—may mean, in part, the unheard runic subtexts.

          The pun “fart” (3) hints that “wrinkle” may also mean what the world’s oldest woman (a modern French wit) said in the late 1990s was the only one she’d ever had—the one she was sitting on!


Sample Puns

108A

          1) At our dinner, Ed entered Hades, too lean; in our Eden, whore W.H. eyed
          1-2) two lines, both esteem honey; old Nice (niece) bawdy eyes Tommy [Thorpe, with “graven”]


108B

          1) Anne, toss ’er robe, ride Annie; Anne X’d [i.e., obliterated] thy breath;
          1-2) written X [i.e., an acrostic] T.Th. abhorred; if Tommy have any wrinkle [en]graven t’ Harry....

108A and 108B

          2) grown, groan; ground; wrinkle, G-row, end here
          2-3) Esteem Havana urine, cigarro vender excuse in ode; knot; graven there, X [i.e., cross] see you, scene ought silence foe; fort (sword) lies in thee; runtier X [i.e., acrostic] see, use not; the Rex Cusa [cf. Cuba]—not “s”!—eye, land see, foe, fort; Rex causa
           3-4) see Sue fart, licensed…; is Indie the new, inner mournful hymn’s tide?
           3-5) fart lies indeed in W., Hen, her mournful hymns did hush the Knight o’ Mar
           4) mournful Ham S. died; eye douche, then eye jet
           4-5) evil Hymen said, “I do,” shitty knight to marry
           5) To Two [suggesting lips, testicles, other body parts]; Tomorrow this you be, iced tea; …iced, T.T.; Hat. before [i.e., frontally] was well [pudendal]; Tom, artist you be, I ceded; this you be, acid t’ Hat.; knight o’ Martha’s you be, Jack
           5-6) bee sorrow swells; beef or wassail steals our homme’s figure; weasel; Rome’s; you randon [i.e., a spree] ope, a saber see
           6) “Is tea-leaf our homme’s fig?” you runed
           6-7) you runed Nobis, perceived firkin dandy; Well still forms figure, Anne, no “piece” perceived, if I aye reckoned Anne true; deaf I reckon dean
           7) Fey, eye wreck, Indian debtor, every inch taught her war; t’ River Rhine get, oather, warty ass
           7-8) Firkin dying did River Rhine jet out here, words of this O you read
           8) is Howard Emilia prefiguring? Oft high sortie eye; a loo prefiguring (loop re-figuring)
           8-9) eye miller, peers, eye jury in gem; mellow peer secure eye
           9) locust serf endeth, Tommy; Male oval hooks servant; Mellow Luke is servant dead; My loaf (loo) looks fresh, Anne did it owe me; if you be f--ker, I be ass; sub-scribe [i.e., write subtextually]; to me, few be scarabs
           9-10) if you be of cribs, weigh snot that you fed Anne, diner; Waste not; Thomas, you be ass, see Arabs’ way
           9-11) Susan ought [maiden?]head use t’ end injury o’ Sage Hall, virile t’ ass
         10-11) I newer ravage Hall
         11) Ulcer, ale, tasted Bess (beast); Southy, to besiege elk ends; ilk; Hall’s “rail” teased Hat; …tasted beefy; t’ Hat., Bessie child kind is; realities that besiege Hall, kindest O’s, be lewd; eye eagle, key, Indies o’ sibyl odd
         11-12) Deuses below Domini aped; be loo dim; soft be lute-man
         12) Many a pet I’d enter (inter), morally ruined; M’ Annie appetite eye newer; Moor; Mine ape petted, in you rumor will grind; in your moor will Grey end
         12-13) eye newer moral, gray and deep; Moor will grant potions of eisell; Potent ass owes [i.e., admits] evil gain of Tommy
         13-14) mystery-engine, affection of oathers’ voices; Tommy, strew engine-section of oathers’ voices that made duresses end, see (fancy); Evil, gay Anne Shakespeare [st] may fit wrong in asses, shunts odorous
         14) O, Father Savoy, see Southy at maid-arse fancy; Savoy seized Hat.; that hymn wider save; O fathers voices that Maters sense; seize the tomatoes fancy


Acrostic Wit

          The downward acrostic code in both 108A and 108B—AIE TT S FOM WA M PO—suggests, e.g., “Hiatus of homme, Wm., poor,” “Aye T.T. is foam, weigh him [hymn] poor [vaguely nautical],” “Eighty’s foam, way [weigh] ample,” “A titty’s foe, hymn weigh ample,” “Aye T.T. is foe [faux], m’ whim po[or],” “Eye T.T.’s ‘foamway,’ my Po,” and “Adda’s [Aida’s?] foamway, m’ Po.” (The Adda is a Po tributary. The line may acknowledge that it’s a “po” joke.)

          The upward (reverse) codeline in both textual variants—OP M A WM OF STTEIA—suggests, e.g., “Owe P.M., A.M. of study I,” “O, P.M. eye, William officed t’ eye ‘I’ [phallic] aye,” “Opium, a William-officed [i.e., appointed] tea,” “Opium, a William-of-Shakespeare tea,” “Hope may Wm. of Shakespeare tie,”and “Ope m’ homme, oaf, ass, T.T., eee!” Plays on “foam” and “PO/OP” (a down/up form) suggest nautical wit. In some of these readings, F=S, a substitution that may have been conventional because the lower-case forms of f and s looked alike in Will’s day.

          This codeline may also mean, “Ope, M.A., Wm. of Shakespeare t’ eye.” Here ST = st = the family name cipher that I’ve deduced and discussed elsewhere on this site. (The digraph depicts an S “holding” a spear-like t by the “handle” and “shaking” it. Capital forms of the same letters, by association, gain the same meaning in Q, with a nice pun on “Saint” to boot.)

          The down/up hairpin codeline generates “poop,” a vulgarism suggesting rear-end business and amplifying other bathroom humor in the text proper (or improper).

             
Proceed to Rune 109
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