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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 110
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Rune 109A,
Eleventh lines in Set VIII (Sonnets 99-112)
Rune 109B, Twelfth line in Sonnet 99
and Eleventh lines in Sonnets 100-112

                         Rune 109A

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

     And, too, his robb’ry had annexed thy breath:
     If any be a satire to Decay
     To make him much outlive a gilded tomb,
 4  But that—wild music—burthens every bow;
     For to no other pass my verses tend,
     So your sweet hue which methinks still doth stand—
     And in this change is my invention spent.
 8  And fore, they looked but with divining eyes;
     Since, spite of him ill live. In this, poor rhyme
     Nor gives to necessary wrinkles place,
     That it could so preposterously be stained
12 On newer proof. To try an older friend,
     No bitterness that I will bitter think
     To critic and to flatt’rer stoppèd are.
__________
     Glosses: 1-2) And puns on Anne and any, on Annie; his = Decay’s; 3) puns: To, Two; him, hymn, “Ham[net?]”; tomb, tome; 4) burthens = burdens; 6) So your sweet puns, “sour, sweet” and “Sour Swede,” a likely epithet for Thomas Thorpe, Will’s printing agent; ”So puns on “Sue,” Will’s daughter; ...methinks = I now contemplate, with the pun “witch meetings”; 7) this change: Q shows grotesquely altered letters (see 11-12); 8) fore = before (my friend lived); 10) Nor give = Does not give; 12) proof = printer’s trial copy; try = separate out, distinguish; to try puns on tawdry; 14) stoppéd are = is piped, is played; stopped suggests withheld (as the Runes are in Q).

                          Rune 109B

(Twelfth line, Sonnet 99, + 11th lines, Sonnets 100-112)

     But for his theft in pride of all his growth,
     If any be a satire to decay
     To make him much outlive a gilded tomb,
 4  But that—wild music—burthens every bow;
     For to no other pass my verses tend,
     So your sweet hue which methinks still doth stand—
     And in this change is my invention spent.
 8  And fore, they looked but with divining eyes;
     Since, spite of him ill live. In this, poor rhyme
     Nor gives to necessary wrinkles place,
     That it could so preposterously be stained
12 On newer proof. To try an older friend,
     No bitterness that I will bitter think
     To critic and to flatt’rer stoppèd are.
__________
     Glosses: 1) But for his... = Just because of the friend’s, or of decay’s... (see 2); 3) puns: To, Two; him, hymn, “Ham[net?]”; tomb, tome; 4) burthens = burdens; 6) So your sweet puns, “sour, sweet” and “Sour Swede,” a likely epithet for Thomas Thorpe, Will’s printing agent; ”So puns on “Sue,” Will’s daughter; ...methinks = I now contemplate, with the pun “witch meetings”; 7) this change: Q shows grotesquely altered letters (see 11-12); 8) fore = before (my friend lived); 10) Nor give = Does not give; 12) proof = printer’s trial copy; try = separate out, distinguish; to try puns on tawdry; 14) stoppéd are = is piped, is played; stopped suggests withheld (as the Runes are in Q).


     109A. Wild Music, Newer Proof

     Decay would even claim your breath, my unnamed friend, to add to his booty:
     If anything can hold him up to ridicule
     by maintaining vitality long after a fancy entombment,
  4 that very thing—wild music—sounds our here from every instrument,
     as all my verses tend toward creating that effect
     so that your sweet coloring, which I contemplate, does not decline—
     and I use up all my ingenuity effecting your transmutation.
  8 On another point, my verses formerly looked only toward the future;
     since then, the spitefulness of poet or friend can thrive poorly. Here, weak verse
     stands firm against its inevitable flaws (or jokes)—
     admitting that it could be quite preposterously marred
12 in later proof stages. To exalt (but also tease and test) a friend who goes back with me farther than any of my critics or admirers,
     no bitterness that I, Will, might contemplate in bitterness
     is piped on my instrument for those of either persuasion to hear.


     109B. Newer Proof

     Now—given that it may steal him at his peak and will undercut his proud accomplishments—
      physical decay can be held up to ridicule and exposed, if at all,
      to insure my friend’s vitality long after a fancy entombment
 4 by just such crazy figures and themes as those that sound out here from every strand.
     For my verses have no other objective,
     so that your sweet coloring, which I contemplate, does not decline—
     and I use up all my ingenuity effecting your transmutation.
  8 On another point, my verses formerly looked only toward the future;
     since then, the spitefulness of poet or friend can thrive poorly. Here, weak verse
     stands firm against its inevitable flaws (or jokes)—
     admitting that it could be quite preposterously marred
12 in later proof stages. To exalt (but also tease and test) a friend who goes back with me farther than any of my critics or admirers,
     no bitterness that I, Will, might contemplate in bitterness
     is piped on my instrument for those of either persuasion to hear.


Comments: 109A

         Like the other runes in Set VIII, Rune 109 has A and B variants whose slightly differing forms depend on whether a reader/player chooses to ignore Sonnet 99.1 or 99.15 in the reconstitution process. Here I focus on variant 109A—which results when Sonnet 99.15 is ignored. I discuss the 109B variant below. Both variants are authorized, and neither is primary.

         In Set VIII, 11 of the 28 runic variants open with initial A’s or initial B’s. Rune 109A starts with A, and 109B starts with B. (The 110 texts exactly reverse this pattern.) These initials seem to offer clues about Will’s bifurcated “A/Bism” in Set VIII, a pattern (and challenging game element) unique to this one set. (See also the openings of 104B, 105A, 107B, 111A, and 112B.)

          As the phrase older friend (12) suggests in both 109 variants, “he” (see 1, 3, 9) may be the poet’s unnamed friend, addressed directly in 6; but his (1) may also mean “decay’s” (see 2), while him (3, 9) puns on “hymn,” suggesting “my verse.” One general idea in the text is that Will’s “Willed music” will laugh in the face of death and overcome it—as art, indeed, can do.

          Joking criticism of the friend/muse in 109A contradicts the poet’s ambiguous insinuation in 9 that he is suppressing “spite.” Will’s witty thesis is that, by immortalizing the muse, the poet is fighting off “necessary wrinkles” (10) that would claim victory if the friend decayed naturally, thus losing his “sweet hue” and “standing” posture (6)—with phallic humor. The metonym “friend’s breath,” which “satirizes” decay (2), is really the poet himself.

          Giving the text some technical unity are linked musical conceits including suggestions of stringed (4) and piped (14) instruments. Other “musical” terms and puns include breath (1); hymn (3, 9); pass (see “passage”); verses (5); style (6); and invention (7). Complementary details on the topic of writing include satire (2); gilded tome (3), linked with sweet hue (6); ink (6, 10, 13); rhyme (9); wrinkles (10, suggesting parchment); stained (11); newer proof (12); and critic (14).
Since a “tiring room” is a dressing room, a “tired ode” (2)—linked to robery in 1—is a “costumed poem” that, like the Runes, waits backstage, so to speak. The pun “new Earth roof tottery” (12, p = th) gestures toward an enclosed Globe with its painted “heavens” over the forestage.

          “Necessary wrinkles” (10), “preposterously...stained” (11), and the pun “One never proofed ode wry” (12) all point to the printer’s garbled typeform in 7, “this change”—overlaid on “Khan, / Genghis.” This self-conscious mess was surely executed by Will’s collaborating printing agent Thomas Thorpe, whose initials occur twice early in Q. As part of the wit, Will seems to disavow such errors and blame them on whoever sets his “newer proof”—that is, on Thorpe. The pun “newer proof To. T. wry annulled” (12) is part of the joke; the contradictory pun “Anne, John, this change is my invention—S.-penned” is concurrent.

          Such “T.T.” wit in 13-14 includes bitter (twice) and cryttick, with double t’s. (A “bitter” might be one who lays out type bits.) Line 13 puns, e.g., “In ‘O’ [i.e., round, rune], bit-urn see: Th’ tool bitty, earthy th’ ink,” with a mid-line play on Hat-I-wi, Hathaway.

          The inkhorn term “preposterously”—i.e., “hind part before”—links with scatology in “necessary-wrinkles,” “annex,” “loo,” and “gilded umber / Butt” (with a “colon” play). “That ‘I,’ will bitter” (13) puns on phallic drive.

         Amid scatological flotsam is the pun “Sewer sweet (Swede), huge…still doth stand” (6), a play mixing with T.T.-berating jokes because “Swede” is recurring subtextual epithet (likely a body-type nickname) that seems to apply to Thomas Thorpe.

          Initial “And’s” (1, 7, 8) signal Anne-wit. Puns on “muse” (3, 4) suggest Nine, here in Rune 109.

Comments: 109B

           Here and in 109A, the unidentified “he” (1, 3, 9) seems to be the unnamed friend, whom the poet momentarily addresses directly (6). But his (here in 1) may mean “decay’s” (see 2), while him (3, 9) puns on “hymn,” suggesting “my verse.” The phrase older friend (12) may identify “him” (1ff.) as the admired younger man.

          A general sense of the text is that the poet’s “wild music” will laugh in the face of death and somehow overcome it.

          Plays such as “in pride o’ S. Hall’s growth” (1), “If Annie be a satire…” (2), “Tommy came…” (3), and punning lines to or about “Sue” (6) and “Anne” (7, 8) all thicken the riddlic soup, with wrinkles (10) of all kinds including suggestions of stringed (4) and piped (14) instruments as well as references to ink (6), stains (11), and newer proof (12). Wrinkle can mean “flaw in the vellum” and thus “…on the page.” The printer’s “preposterous change” (in Q7, and see 10-12) occurs here as a craftily calculated impression on the Q page made by distorted, presumably altered type bits that Thorpe or his factors must have had a hand in.


Sample Puns

109A

          1) Anne, toss ’er robe, ride Annie; Anne X’d [i.e., obliterated] thy breath; written X T.Th. abhorred
          1-2) Atheist Annie be; Undo his robe red, and next thigh bare—a thigh’s aye nigh; berate heaven, ye beast ired; next t’ Tiber, eye Seine; Y [i.e., fork] biased eye; Eye Ass Annie, beast attired odd, easy; Eye of Annie, busy, tired; Bessie tried ode easy; Eye S., Annie-Bess; Eye fanny-piece, attire dowdy

109B

          1) Beau thesaurus, this tempered evil; Butt fore; Hate [B=8] you thesaurus’d, hefty Anne; hiss this tin parade, awfully sick, rude; forest hefty [cf. “leaves”]; John pried his awl, his growth; I Deo-solace grow; peer, eye devil, hiss
          1-2) appeared awful “gyre-O” [suggesting round, rune], this aye nigh be, a satire to decay; this [row or textual variant...] A nigh be...

109A and 109B

          2-3) Annie be easy tirrit, easy to make; Is A, nigh B [pointing to the A/B options here], a satire to D/C, aye? Two make Ham, you see, outlive a gilded tomb
          3) Two make Amos out—live, aye, gilded; Tom aye came muck; Two ma[t]e; Tome, ache-hymn, muckèd loo, a guilded [i.e., coterie’d] tome; Ham, you see how to live aye, gelded too; mew chattel, eye vague ill, dead Tom
          3-4) baby you, T.T., had
          4) Buddha, too ill, dim, you seek; you f--k bird, Hen. S.; Bawdy Hat., wild homme (Will-tome) you seek; …wild muse I see
          4-5) in Surrey be overtone o’ oather; in ass you rebuff our tone; pave (puff, pass) my verses t’ end
          5) Fortune o’ Oedipus may veer; Fart on O, odor pass; two know the repast
          5-6) in desire, few eat huge, meaty Incas; may Vere’s ostent sour; my verses tend t’ Sue; my very assistant, sour/sweet ewe
          6) Soars witty Hugh high, see him thin; Sour/sweet hue, W.H. I see; Sour, sweet, huge meat eye; Witch mete in castle doth stand; Swede huge, meaty; Which meat in Castille doth stand?
          6-7) ass tilled (a stilled) ostent, handy in this sea
          7) Indian t’ hiss, Khan, Genghis; Is this Khan Genghis? Anne; this change points to the altered type bits in Q [“change” echoes “till” in 6]; Genghis mean you end, unspent
          7-8) Angus may in wenching spend “tanned sword”; “John” is penned, and 40 look; S. penned Anne, farty—look at butt with divining eyes; t’ end sortie, Luke débuted wit
          8) Anne desired hell; End farty (End o’ [Chpt.] 40), Luke débuted divine inches; th’ halo Kyd bought with divine inches
          9) Sense of pig hits hymn; Sense spigot o’ simile; jettison Eli; eye jet o’ simile in this “pour” rhyme; Sin see (spite o’ female) alive in this; homily; family; pitty…loo; Sense, ass, pits Himalayan to hiss (twist)
          9-10) Levant is poorer, eye meaner Jews, too
        10) In orgy Houston seize, awry; Inner; To Nice’s ferry, Rhine see; Inner juice t’ Annie’s ovary runs; Inner Jew-tones of a wry rune; Rhine seagulls play
        10-11) if a rare John kills, place th’ added cold-sober post, arouse Libbie’s taint ; seize fairy wry in sickle’s place
        10-12) In her, juiced wand see, ovary wrinkle splays that it could…be stained…newer
        11) peer post t’ arouse lie befitting don; The teat, cold foe, so preposterous
        11-12) don your Paris tawdry, Anne; Don in “ewer” perused ode
        12) Owe newer profit; ode, rune, older is “rune”
        12-13) O, Anne, your prose tawdry annulled every Indian obit earnest; dun O-bit erring if t’ Hat.
        13) Know bitty, nasty Hathaway ill, biter; in ass th’ tool bitter
        13-14) th’ ink, too, serrates candid (candied) O; the towel buy turdy (dirty) and “get ochred”; eying Cato, see writ asking Dido of ladder-stop dear; Too, Critias’ candid O’s laid error oft to peter; Cato’s courtesy can die; courteous
        14) Too, critic Ann did offal add, error, Shakespeare holped her; tough ladder [i.e., an acrostic rune], our fit [i.e., stanza]; t’ isolate heiress, tup Ed, Harry; I see cantos late, errors, too; canto is later, rare fit o’ Peter


Acrostic Wit

109A

          The downward acrostic code starts, significantly, with the letter A: A IT B F SAAS NTONT. Readings for this codeline include, e.g., “Eye it, ‘beef sauce’ entoned,” “I ate beef sauce, end o’ knot,” “‘Eat beef sauce,’ Anne taunt,” “Ate beef sauce, end o’ Auntie [hinting at Anne’s corpulence],” “Aye eye ‘To be’ of assassin’d aunt,” “Eye it, Bessie’s end [F=S],” “‘88 [B=8], of Seas entoned [suggesting the Armada year, and pointing to Set VIII],”and “88 assassin taunt.”

          The upward reverse codeline—T NOT N SAAS F BT I A—conveys such potential meanings as these samples: “Denote end-sauce of Betty aye,” “Ten ought nice ass of Betty eye,” “T., note end-sauce of bitty ‘I’,” and “Denoting ‘ass,” A’s, alphabet eye aye.”

          The palindromic SAAS in both the up- and the down-codelines encourages “saucy” readings.

          The down/up hairpin codeline may feature granddaughter Elizabeth in her diapers: e.g., “Aye it be of sauce entoned, ‘Denote end-sauce of Betty aye’,” “Ate beef sauce intoned, denoting force of Betty,” and “Eyed, Bess, sassy and taunty, denoting sauce of Betty aye.”

          This hairpin also suggests, e.g., “I eat beef, sauce, and dough-knot, an oaten sauce, fete [i.e., feast] t’ eye,” with puns on beet and tea. The downward acrostic code in 109A--A IT B F SAASNTONT--suggests, e.g., “I ate beef sauce, end o’ knot,” “88 [B = 8] face I, I sin tonight,” and “’88, forte [=F], seas entoned”-- suggesting 1588, the Armada year, and reiterating VIII, the set number, with another “musical” pun(The code in 109B varies slightly, generating, again, BIT....)

109B

           The B codeline variant starts, suitably, with B: BIT B F S AAS N TONT. Decodings include such possibilities as these samples: “Bite beef sauce, Anne taunt,” “Bite beef as I aye sin taunt,” “’Bye, ‘To be…,’ if asses intoned,” “Betty be of sighs (size) intoned,” “Bitty bee faces Anne tonight,” “By ‘I’d’ buff ass, I aye sinned, honed (O, knight),” and “Bede buff, seize tonight.”

           The upward (reverse) codeline—TNOT NS AAS F BT I B—suggests these sample readings: “To note nice ass of bee, tip,” “Denote nice ass of Betty (Bede), up,” “Ten ought in asses of bee tup,” “Denote Anne, size of bitty bee,” and “Ten ought in ass (aye, ass) of Betty be.”

             
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