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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 112
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Rune 111A,
Thirteenth lines in Set VIII (Sonnets 99-112)
Rune 111B, Fourteenth line in Sonnet 99
and Thirteenth lines in Sonnets 100-112


                        Rune 111A

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

     A vengeful canker eat him up to death?
     Give my love fame faster then! Time wastes life!
     Then do thy office, muse! I teach thee how.
 4  Therefore like her I sometime hold my tongue,
     And more, much more, then, in my verse can sit—
     For fear of which, hear this, thou age unbred:
     Fair, kind, and true have often lived alone
 8  For we which now behold these present days,
     And thou in this shalt find thy monument,
     Finding the first conceit of love there bred.
     For nothing this wide universe I call.
12Then give me welcome, next my heaven the best,
     Pity me then, dear friend, and I assure ye
     You are soo strongly in my purpose bred.
__________
     Glosses: 1) him = my love (see 2), punning on hymn, i.e., poem; 4) her = (my) muse (see 3); 6) which = excessive silence (see 4) or complexity (see 5); For fear of which... puns, “Force ear [pudendal] of witch,” “sorcerer...”; 9) this = this poem, the list of virtues in 7; line 9 is a phallic pun; 10) conceit = concept, figure; bred echoes unbred in 6 and anticipates bred in 14; 11) nothing is a routine pudendal pun, with I call punning “I see (icy...) awl” (phallic, with I a pictographic phallus); 11-12) puns: e.g., “For(e) no-thing t’ hiss, white (...wide), un-averse (...unawares), I see ‘awl’ thin, gummy, welcome (...will come)... ”; 14) so = also, thus, equally; bred (see 6, 10), which puns on bared and buried, underscores the copulative humor in the text.


                         Rune 111B

(Fourteenth line, Sonnet 99,+ 13th lines, Sonnets 100-112)

     More flowers I noted, yet I none could see
     Give my love fame. Faster than time wastes life
     Then, do thy office, muse! I teach thee how;
 4  Therefore like her I sometime hold my tongue,
     And more, much more, then, in my verse can sit—
     For fear of which, hear this, thou age unbred:
     Fair, kind, and true have often lived alone
 8  For we which now behold these present days,
     And thou in this shalt find thy monument,
     Finding the first conceit of love there bred.
     For nothing this wide universe I call.
12 Then give me welcome, next my heaven the best,
     Pity me then, dear friend, and I assure ye
     You are soo strongly in my purpose bred.
__________
     Glosses: 1) flowers puns on “flow-ers,” flowing verse lines (with bawdy innuendo), slurs, penises, drinkers; 4) her = [my] muse (see 3); like her puns on “liquor”; 6) which = excessive silence (see 4) or complexity (see 5); For fear of which... puns, “Force ear [pudendal] of witch,” “sorcerer...”; 9) this = this poem, the list of virtues in 7; line 9 is a phallic pun; 10) conceit = concept, figure; bred echoes unbred in 6 and anticipates bred in 14; 11) nothing is a routine pudendal pun, with I call punning “I see (icy...) awl” (phallic, with I a pictographic phallus); 11-12) puns: e.g., “For(e) no-thing t’ hiss, white (...wide), un-averse (...unawares), I see ‘awl’ thin, gummy, welcome (...will come)... ”; 14) so = also, thus, equally; bred (see 6, 10), which puns on bared and buried, underscores the copulative humor in the text.


    111A. This Thy Monument (I)

     A vicious cancer’s trying to kill him?
     Hurry faster, then, to bring my love immortality: Time destroys life!
     So do your work, muse! I’m showing you how.
  4 Mimicking my muse, I sometimes withhold words (by not writing or by “whispering” here)
     so there’s much, much more room in this cycle for substantive material, much of it hidden.
     For fear of not adding words or of not being heard, let me address future ages openly:
     Fairness, kindness, and truth have often been isolated, hermit like,
  8 in the experience of those of us who witness these present days,
     and you my future readers (and my friend) shall find here your memorial—
     discovering, engendered there, the primal, wellspring figure of love—perhaps a “no-thing.”
     Relatively speaking, I don’t give a fig for this expansive universe. (This vast project has its own fecundity. Still, my address here to the world may prove pointless.)
12 Then welcome me—for me that would be the next best thing to heaven—
     and show compassion toward me, dear friend, and I assure you
     that you’re equally vital in my concerns and that I’m working hard to keep you thriving.


     111B. This Thy Monument (II)

     I saw many flowers in nature and wrote about them in these lyrics, yet I could see none
     bringing my love fame. Faster than time can destroy life,
     then, do your work, muse! I’m illustrating the technique.
  4 Mimicking my muse, I sometimes withhold words (by not writing or by “whispering” here)
     so there’s much, much more room in this cycle for substantive material, much of it hidden.
     For fear of not adding words or of not being heard, let me address future ages openly:
     Fairness, kindness, and truth have often been isolated, hermit like,
  8 in the experience of those of us who witness these present days,
     and you my future readers (and my friend) shall find here your memorial—
     discovering, engendered there, the primal, wellspring figure of love—perhaps a “no-thing.”
     Relatively speaking, I don’t give a fig for this expansive universe. (This vast project has its own fecundity. Still, my address here to the world may prove pointless.)
12 Then welcome me—for me that would be the next best thing to heaven—
     and show compassion toward me, dear friend, and I assure you
     that you’re equally vital in my concerns and that I’m working hard to keep you thriving.


Comments: 111A

         Musing on his artistic role as immortalizer, Will in 111A comments “quietly” but nervously on his silent Runes and how they “breed” multiplicity (4, 5, 10, 14). An extended bawdy pun about Eve’s resourceful pudendum amplifies his theme, with “conceit” (10) the common “country” pun that one also hears in Hamlet.

          One version of the pun buried is this: “And thou in this shalt find thy monument descending, the First Cunt: See it, oval’d, hairy, bared ‘fore-nothing,’ this wide ‘V,’ never fecal…” (9-11). Will’s “first conceit [pun: cunt-seat; cunt-site]of love, oft lewd, hairy, bared” (10) is also a “no-thing” (11)—here is more familiar Renaissance bawdry—that Will hurls as a disparaging epithet for the “wide [witty, wet, wed, weighed, white, weighty...] Universe” (11).

          Construed more soberly, the rune laments Will’s isolation and the lack of virtue of his Age (7-8, 11); acknowledges the pointlessness of things (11); reiterates his strong commitment to his “purpose” (14); and asks for our sympathy (13). His modulating apostrophes address any listener (1-2); the “muse” (3); “thou age unbred” (6-10); and the “dear friend” (12-14). Lines 9-14 may address those of us “unbred” (6)—an insult meaning “lacking manners” (OED 1596) that also means “not yet conceived.”

          Endwords “bred” (10, 14) and “unbred” (6) anchor motific word clusters about living and dying (see 1, 2, 7), while the motif of multiplication appears in “Give...fame faster” (2), “more, much more” (5), and “first conceit [i.e., conception] of love” (10). Cancer, wasting, muteness, and “sitting” inactive (1-5) all link with a joking series about annihilation (9, 11, 12).

           Too, “eat” triggers the pun “bread” (6, 10, 14), linked with “tongue” (4) and with outhouse wit such as “full can” (1), “gummy loo” (2), “wastes,” “do thy office” (2-3), “here I foamed, I’m holed midden [dunghill]” (4), “more muck” (5), “loo’d alone” (7), “pitty me” (13), “gummy well” (12), and “conceit of loo there be read (...th’ air bred)” (10). One goal of the poem is to “give my loo fame” (2). While OED does not confirm “loo” (Br. “outhouse”) as an Elizabethan pun, the word varies Fr. lieu, “place,” a euphemism.

          Self-consciously echoic parallels in the text include “I sometime hold my tongue” (4) and “nothing...I call” (11); “Therefore” (4) and “For” (6, 8, 11); “her” (4) and “hear” (4, 6); and “find” (9), “Finding” (10). Contrived alliteration in the “key of F” colors every line; the F/V interchange helps explain “Vniuerse” (11), where “V” can be a pictographic groin. “Bread,” loaf,” and “love” merge.

Comments: 111B

         In the 111B variant, flowers (1) takes a jab at cliched poetic comparisons. Though line 1 is logically prefatory and hardly developed in the text, the pun “The first conceit of love t’ Harry be red (read)” (10) does point back jokingly to the first-line conceit; and More in 111B.1—punning “Moor” (dark), “M’ whore”—finds an echo in “More muck moor, then, in my verse can sit” (5). None (1), punning “nun,” anticipates the pudendal play nothing (11) as well as heaven (12).

          The opener here, further, clouds this text with the pun “Moor flow-ers I noted, yet I nun cold see” (1), plus many variants—“Moor flow arising, ‘oded,’ ye et …,” “Moor flow errs, I note, Ed.…,” “ye et ‘I,’ none could see”—to hint that a “well-endowed Moor, flowing” is another conceit that will do the beloved friend little good in the “fame” department. Such a phallicism, perhaps, triggers separate-but-equal treatment of Eve’s pudendum, the Mother of All Sin: “Sin-tinged, the first conceit [cunt-seat] of love there be [a] red, fore ‘no-thing’ this wide…” (10-11).

          The 111B acrostic opens with a play on “My jet...” and “Midget....” (And see Acrostic Wit below.) 

          Both the A and B texts encode the wonderful aside “Thin, doughty oaf, I see my use: I teach theatre for liquor, I foam. Tommy [Thorpe], hold my tongue...” (3-4).

          In more sober-faced and logical ways, too, the new starter connects with what follows.


Sample Puns

111A

          1) You lick Anne carroty; you Lucan-garret eye; Lucan—crate him up; fool can carry tea, mope, too; Ave in jest you like
          1-2) th’ gummy loo is a mess; thick, eye female office amiss; thick Himalayas, a stair t’ Indie

111B

          1) Morris (Morse) lours in ode, editing, wan soul deaf is; Moor flow-ers [i.e.,dark lines]; slurs; dieting uncle see; My whores, lower ass […“s”—not caps]; ye et “I,” nun could see; in one-C [IC = 99] old; ye “canonical” (t=c) see; ye tenants old see
          2) More “flow-ers” I noted, yet eye none could see [that] gummy loo’s a mess (ass-t’-earth hint I; my use is t[oo] sly)

111A and 111B

          2) Sammy’s aster tend; Jew; Game (Gem) ye love; low; fast turd in time whiff, ’tis lazy; time meter; Gummy, loose, amiss ass-turd—in Tommy waste lies; …miss’s…tummy-
          2-3) hint amused slave to Hindu thief; William Shakespeare’s leaf (alive), thin, doughty O’s I see; t’ amuse, tease lies; eye feet in doughty O’s; eye Satan doughty
          3) thief I see amused each—thee, Howard, Herefor[d]; office, mufti itched
          3-4) Thin, doughty oaf, I see my use: I teach (ditch) theatre for liquor, I foam; Tommy, hold my tongue; sassy muse I ditched hee-hawed, her foreleg erred; I ditched the ode
          4) T’ Harry, for liquor, I sometime hold demi-tone; lick Harry’s O, meaty “I”, meal dim ye tongue; …I saw medium hole dim; eye foe, meta-meal, dim (damn) Eton Jew
          4-5) mighty engine, dimmer hymn you see
          4-6) June demure must hymn our thin enema, verses unfit for ass-ears
          5) Anne, dim whore, mucky (m’ huge) martin (Morton), in my verse see unfit; handy Moor; t’ Hen, enemy were fecund fit; eying dimmer Massey mordant in my verse, see insight
          5-8) thin enemy, worse, see Anne sit (fit), sorcery of witch, horrid, hissed, huge, wen bared, sour kin, dying, dead, rough, often livid, awl—wand—fore, which in “O” be holed, heavy
          6) Asser’s witch hurt his toe; Four fairies W.H. eyes, he aye readies touch unbred; Sorcery of witch, harried, hissed, Hugh-John be read (buried)
          6-7) aye John be red, fair, kind, dandy, rough, often lewd, awl wan
          7) Firkin dean did rue; Indian debtor halves tan, livid awl   
          8) Forage in O, behold these present days; Sue, rouge now behold; Witch-nobility has peers in it
          8-9) W.H., eye China, behold the sea, present decent town; knobby, holed, heavy peer-fin, titties, Anne did hone, this fault is ended
          9) Eying th’ Isolde, find dead hymn; Dido ends
          9-10) Anne, dead ewe—eying this, S.Hall, descended; hymen you men—descending t’ heavy arsed cunt—seed; mend
          9-12) human descending, the first cunt, see it (seat o’ Flood), O, ass lewd, hairy, bared fore-nothing, this V, never fecal, thin, gummy
        10) Sin-tinged the First Cunt, seeded, “O”-flow there be red; inched, his “I” reft cunt’s hiatus low, t’ Harry bred for nothing; nervous I see awl; Oslo, t’ Harry barred
        11) this wide “V,” Annie-verse I call; “this wide Universe” [suggesting acorpulent Anne]; in your cycle
        11-12) Foreign oat in Judy’s wide V, never fecal, thin Jew, mule, come, annexed, mewn; …I see awl thin give me welcome, annex “stemmy,” hewn the best
        12-13) Jew; Will-come; Anne X’d my heaven, the beast, pity me then; mewn Thebes type, eye Tommy t’ hinder his rune, Dandy of Fury
        12-14) in the Beast Pitty, meat endears randy Anne, deaf you (handy few), rare, arose
        13) endive fear
        13-14) Pity me…, Anne…; Pit I’m t’ Hen., dear friend [“pit” and “Universe” suggest The Globe]; Dandy Ass Surrey, your ass oft wrongly in my pure pussy buried (bared); fear your asses, to wrong line, maybe Europe’s Bard; Andes you rear; eye azure year of Austria, England maybe
        14) You are a foe strong, legion [in = “John”]; my pure pose, Bard; strong lion; you, orifice to wrong, lie in my pure pussy; Your foe, fitter England, maybe Europe’s buried


Acrostic Wit

111A

          The downward acrostic code in Rune 111A—AGTT AFFFAFFT PY—suggests, e.g., “A jet tough, aft, by,” “Edge, T.T., eye, fff, a fit by [i.e., stanza finished],” “Edge T.T. tough aft, pay,” “Itch taffeta th’ Y [i.e., groin],” “I jet aye sauces [F=S] t’ pie,” “Age, titty, half-assed pie,” “A jetty taste after pie,” “Eye jot [i.e., dot over ‘i’] assist pi[e],” “Aye God assessed pi [i.e., 3.1416…],” and “Age, T.T., assessed pi.” (In Will’s numbers game, pi stands for the ratio between parts of a circle and thus suggests “round”—i.e., rune.)

           The reverse (upward) codeY PT FF A FFFATT GA—suggests, e.g., “Th’ [= y] pity double forte, effete (...a fete) gay,” “Wiped, fey, fat jay,” “Yap tough aye [eye], feet [metrical] gay,” “Yap tough, effete [i.e., exhausted], gay,” and “Th’ [= y] pit double forte, effete, gay.” The pun “Pit-team thin (Pit teemed, Hen., dear friend)…” in textual line 13 points to the last, “theatrical” reading.

111B

          The downward acrostic in this variant—M GTT A FFF A FF T P Y—suggests such readings as these samples: “Mighty tough, a fit [i.e., stanza] by…,” “My Judy fey…,”and “My jet/jetty [burst, blackness, pier] eye fff, eye ff t’ p. Why?” The last reading presumes Will’s use in his “hymns” of Italian terms for musical dynamics (cf. OED piano [1683, abbrev. p] forte [1724, abbrev. f, with forte forte ff]).

          The upward (reverse) code—YP TFF AFFFATT GM—may, e.g., mean, “Yap tough, effete gome [i.e., man, cf. bridegroom],” “Y[a crotchlike letter], pit fey, fffatt [imitative ‘fat’] gem [gome].”

          The down/up hairpin suggests, e.g., “My Judy fff a fit piped [i.e., a stanza played] ff—aye, fff—at tea (a tidy game)” and/or “My Judy a fife fit piped ff, effete gem (game).” With “yap” (OED 1668 bark sharply) as a key, the hairpin yields “My Judy—fff, aye, ff to p—yapped—ff, aye, fff—at tea.”

          Piping or yapping, the scenario may satirize the younger daughter’s dynamically modulated musical virtuosity as a parlor performer. As a parallel, “The wiry concord that mine ear confounds” (Sonnet 128.4) sounds out in a sonnet whose initial-letter acrostic—HUWTD TWAT AOMS G—may also comment on Judy’s musical heavy-handedness (cf., e.g., the readings “Judy taught hommes [Amos] G” and “Judy did weigh Tom’s G.” Here “G” is a musical note, perhaps a common low-bass note for the “burden” to carry—and “gee” is a right-turn signal to an ass [1628]).

          For other potential wit about Judy as performer, see 59X and 62.13-14.

             
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