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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 X, Runes 127-140: Texts and Comments 
Copyright © Roy Neil Graves 2004, All Rights Reserved        

             
Proceed to Rune 133
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Rune 132
Sixth lines, Set X (Sonnets 127-140)


                         Rune 132

     (Sixth lines, Set X: Sonnet 127-140)

     Fairing the foul with art’s false borrowed face
     To kiss the tender inward of thy hand,
     Past-reason hunted, and no sooner had.
 4  But no such roses see I in her cheeks:
     Thy face hath not the power; to make love groan
     Better becomes the gray cheeks of th’ East.
     And my next self thou harder hast engrossed,
 8  For thou art covetous, and he is kind.
     Not once vouchsafe to hide my will in thine—
     I fill it full with wills; and my will, one,
     Be anchored in the bay where all men ride.
12 Although she knows my days are past the best,
     Dear heart, forbear to glance thine eye aside;
     Though not to love, yet love to tell me so.
__________
     Glosses: 3) Past-reason = Madness (identified with the Runes); 4) Q such is always a bawdy eyepun on “f--k”; her (ambig.) = past-reason’s (see 3); cheeks suggests “checks” = acrostic grids, deterrents; 5) Q’s make loue grone puns, “make low G-row end,” pointing to line 7 “below,” with its “low” wit; 7) my next self = a persona identified with the Sonnets (see 3, 10-11); engrossed puns on “G-row,” i.e., line 7 (see 5), e.g., “in G-row S. [the poet?] said...,” “in G-row is ed. [editor, i.e., Thomas Thorpe?]”; 9) Not once: i.e., Over and over, punning “Knot wan [i.e., pale] see”; 12) she (ambig.) suggests art (1, 13), thine eye (13), and past-reason (3); 13) heart puns routinely on art, hard—phallic wit enhanced by such puns as “fore-beard,” “lance,” eye / phallic “I,” “ass-hide”); 14) The line puns, e.g., “Th’ ‘O’ [i.e., round or rune]-knot to love, yet love total ms., O.”


     132. The Bay Where All Men Ride

     Decorating ugliness with the mask of art
     to caress the tender palm of your hand,
     dementia (in the form of these crazy texts) sought you out—and instantly found you.
  4 But I see in the brazen face of this artful “ms.” no predictably fair roses.
     Your face doesn’t create that effect; to activate love’s blushes
     is more aptly the prerogative of the sky at dawn.
     And you have subsequently clasped my other persona here in Q, the one next in line, the generator of the Sonnets—
  8 for you want it all, and that other self (unlike the Crazy Female side of me you see here) is considerate and pliable.
     Agree to hide my purpose in yours and let me love you, not just once but over and over:
     I fill it full of “Will’s.” Let my singular affection
     find security in your hands, in the crowded harbor of your attraction.
12 Although your eyes see the face of a self past its prime,
     dear heart (or art), try not to look away;
     even if you are not to love me, enjoy lying to me on that subject.

 


Comments

          Full (as usual) of bawdy innuendo, this poem also houses some dramatic ambiguities that we’re used to in the last two sets in Q, where the visible Sonnets also vary the topic of an obscure triangular relationship involving the poet, his male friend, and a perverse (and in this instance demented) female. Q’s Dark Lady, I propose, is on one level a figure for the runic Q project itself, the poet’s Crazy Ms. (or Mysteries).

          Possibly the poem sketches out a courtly scenario in which this female interacts with the poet and his auditor/friend/muse: A demented (3) and aging (12) “mistress” persona wearing “art’s false borrowed face” (1) steps up to meet a man who “engrosses” both her or her “next self,” an alter-ego (7). Like others before her (11) she yields, begging the auditor whom she approaches to deceive her by avowing love (14). The dual-natured courtesan stands for Q—foul in the Runes but artfully masked by the Sonnets. The friend’s cupped palm (2), open for a kiss or tribute, transmogrifies into a crowded “bay” (11) that Will, the poet, wants to “fill full” (10). At least in part, “Will’s will” means the verse ms. itself (1-2), a testament to dispense the poet’s intentions (9).

           Repetitions and motifs add technical unity and show careful crafting: Occurring multiple times are the terms cheeks, face, will(s), love, past, no(t), art/heart, and better/best. A string of body-part nouns includes face, hand, cheeks, heart, and eye. Incidental rhymes include hide / ride / aside. The endwords grown and en-growest are echoic—as are face / east / best; hand / had; and kind / thine. “Economic” diction includes borrowed, tender, engrossed, covetous, and forbear (as “not call in a debt”). A connection exists between sunset (implied 6) and “days are past the best” (12). And the opening and closing lines are intertwined remarks about duplicity (1, 14).

           Will’s artfully paired writings (see 1), the Sonnets and Runes he’s preparing for the auditor’s “hand” (2), are products of both “past[e] thought” and irrationality (3). The term “gray cheeks of th’ East” (6) may suggest old, arcane jokes (see cheeks in OED); usual plays on “knot” as “riddle” occur (5, 14). “Forbear to glance…aside” (13) exhorts us toward persistence. Vagueness about “her” (4, 12) and such “Anne” puns as that in the “Will line” (10) make the poem seem to voice the complaint of one restless, “anchored” husband: e.g., “I fill it full with Will S.; Anne dim you’ll own [i.e., acknowledge as having her name faintly inscribed here, with “dim” suggesting “not bright”].

           The typeforms of line 1 help illustrate the playful nature of the poet’s symbol system, with kinds of tedious wit lost in modern printing: Since “f” and “long ‘s’” look alike in Q, faulse puns on souls, fowls, and fools. Pun clusters in 1 include “fearing / paring / searing,” “soul / fowl / fool,” “arts / artist / hards / hard ass,” “false / salts / souls / fowls / fools / sauce / Saul see,” and “face / sauce / faze.” Lines 1-2 pun, e.g., “Searing the soul with arts, all see B, our row [...error], defaced....” “B-row” means line 2.

           Both the downward and the upward acrostic codelines, conventionalized parts of the Q game, seem to comment tediously on the apparent alteration of the rune’s initial “F” (in line 1) to make it look like a “P.” This alteration is the kind of minimal detail that Will’s printing agent and collaborator, Thomas Thorpe, surely must have executed at the poet’s direction. (Thorpe, a smalltime entrepreneur, is known to be the “T.T.” who signed Q’s cryptic and much-debated dedication page.)

           Numerous such typographical oddities sprinkle the 1609 Quarto pages.

           Other puns in the letterstring codelines of the (horizontal) textual lines include these:

           “defy Cato, kiss fetid end, err, John[ = in], warty oaf...” (1-2);
           “to end rune, ward off the windy Pastor S. anointed—I in din, ‘O’ fon [i.e., round or rune silly], heard...” (2-3);
           “in word of the wine, deepest reason hunt, Ed. [= T. Thorpe?], and know fon [i.e., silly] error...” (2-3);
           “Row F is seen here”; “rows easy I inhearse” (4);
           “G-row [i.e., line 7], nebbed here, becomes the gray cheeks of th’ East, and my next is else...” (5-7);
           “Howard resting grows fat”; “thou hard erased John gruff (...gross)” (7);
           “to you, sane, dusky Indian owed one sou” (8-9);
           “eye silly tussle with Will S.--and a mule wan” (10);
           “Biancha reddened a bare awl, my inner ‘I’ dull [idol, ideal], though she knows my days are past the best...” (11);
           “be anchored in Thebe [sic], eye Ural minaret alt [= high]” (11-12);
           “Midas aye ribs T.T.” (12); and
           “Dead Harry, hard, forbear to glance thine ‘I’ aside, th’ ‘O’ huge not to love, yet love to ‘tail’ Ms.- ‘O’...” (12-13).

           See below for fuller explorations of puns in the letterstring lines.

           Puns toward the end of the text are about Wyatt, the early sonneteer, and Tottel’s miscellany (1557), the collection in which the sonnets of Wyatt and Surrey are preserved: e.g., “Dirty forbear to glen, city nigh—aye, city, town—ought to laud low [i.e., praise quietly] Tottel Ms., O!” (13-14). Too, line 14 puns on Wyatt (code: yet). One version of the pun is, “Town ought to love Wyatt, love Tottel ms., O.”


Sample Puns

           1) Pairing [“F” altered to suggest “P”]; fool; salts [tears] borrowed of ass; you lewd hard-ass; soil; the soul withered
           1-2) with arts, Saul Sybarite faced; Pair in jetty salute, hard asses all see, burrowed asses to kiss; Saul February (zebra) defaced; saber odd face took; eye Cato kiss fetid end; leafy (Livy) be our row de facto; face to quay, eye fated end, eye rune-word o’ Southy; enduring war, dusty Anne
           2-3) August hit, in Darien war, dusty hand pays terrors; to end rune, ward off the windy pastor; in word of the wine, deepest reason hunted
           3) you into dandy nose, honored
           3-4) a début know, f--k her O; Past reason hunted, Anne know, fon, red, Butt know, f--k rosy ass, see “I” enter cheeks; Pastor has anointed Anne Dean of Honored Butt (no f--k!); I saw nun dead eying din of honored butt; Ed. Anne-nose honored, butt, nose you see; past-reason suggests arcane lore of earlier times, previously asserted truths or motives in the Runes; narrowed butt know, “f--kerosis” see
           4) in O, f--k her; Row F is seen here; row’s easy aye; rows easy I inhearse
           4-5) Roughest sinner checks this ass; know of huger office: Seine hearse he kissed
           5) Thief, eye Satan; face Hath., naughty power; note the port, O; naughty, poor Tommy, kill ogre wan; grown
           5-6) one better becomes the Greek, he kisses thief
           6) Bitter be come, Southy; Bitter become Southy, Grey, see; beck o’ mist, hickory see; T.T.-err becomes thick rage, he kisses thief
           5-7) G-row [i.e., line 7], nebbed here, becomes the gray cheeks of th’ East, and my next is else
           6-7) the greasy kiss of the East Endymion excels; our age kisses the ass tandem, why?
           7) Endymion ecstasy’ll fit Howard; art, here halved, engrossed; Howard rafting grows fat; thou hard erased John gruff (gross)
           7-8) Gruff Ed., fart, Howard covets end
           8) owe Sandusky in din; O, use Andes-key
           8-9) to you, sane, dusky Indian owed one sou; “Anne dies”—kin, denoting sieve, ouches ass’d, wide mule
           9) two hid Emile (a meal) in th’ hiney; a sea to hide Milan; in Chichester, autumn you’ll end aye
           9-10) item: Willy Nate hiney eye, fill it full; I fed (I’ve hit) wide mule in the anus; mule in the anise; Not once, five [times], O, you see heavy-set, wide mule…; well; in th’ hiney, eisell eye
         10) eye silly tussle with Will S. and mule wan; centime(s) you’ll owe (yellow)
         10-11) Anne, damn (dim) yellow Nubian, see; eye lone bean; my willow nib Anne shortened; I, silly, tease you, lewd Will S., Anne dim, you’ll wan be, Anne see, whored…where all men ride; Milan be anchored in the bay; will sandy Milan be Anne’s hoard?
         11) Biancha reddened a bare awl (burial); eye Ural minaret; Paeon (Paying), see whore-din, the bare awl-men are eyed; be Anne cored in the barrel men ride
         11-12) eye delta huge, f--king O’s; all men ride the hose; Be anchored in the bay, W., Harry, awl man, ride all; riddle, th’ O huge
         12) how fecund, O, is Midas; Jesse knows Midas aye; Midas aye rips T.T.; eye ribs, titty; daze; paste; beast; sheikh, know (no) Semites are past Thebes; In O, Semite “I’s” are paste; my desire passed; yes, a repast
         12-13) Hebe’s titty aye reared, sore, bare; Hebe, steadier, heard “sorbet”; hard sorbet redo, glands t’ hiney; Dead Harry, hard, forbear to glance thine “I” aside, th’ “O” huge not to love, yet love to “tail” me so
         13) Dirty (hard) is our burdock lane, see; bear-talk lay in city nigh; city, Nice, eyed; Anne seed (seat) heinous eye
         13-14) eye neophyte (sedate) Huguenots to Laud love; see th’ Annie, acid Huguenot, tell off idle Ovid
         14) in Otto’ll Ovid low; knot; two; loo; ye et tail; Th’ O-knot [not] to love, you’d love total ms., O; yet low to tell my foe; ye Anne [et] love—Total Miss O; laud ye, too low, Tottel Ms. [suggesting Tottel’s Miscellany]


Acrostic Wit

          The downward acrostic codeline—FT P BT B A FN I BAD T—as well as its upward reverse seems to comment on the apparent alteration of the rune’s initial “F” to make it look like “P.” Possible readings of the doward code include these samples: “Fit ‘P’ [type]bit be aye [eye-] fon [silly], I bade it,” “…abate it,” “Fit ‘P,’ bit ‘B,’ often ‘I’ [is a] bad ‘T’,” “Fit ‘P’-bit be aye ‘F’ nibbed [i.e.,altered with a pen],” “Fit pate (pied) t’ aid as Annie bait [B=8, F=S],” and “Fit ‘P’ be tidy, finite aid.”

           The upward (reverse) code—T D AB INF AB TBPT P—suggests, e.g., “Ted [i.e., Scatter] a [type]bin fey, ‘B’ typed ‘P’,” “Today eye Eden fated (faded), pee to pee [B = phonic 8 throughout],” “Today [Ted = Scatter] A/B! Enough A/B! Tipped [Typed] P,” “Today eye 8 enough, eye 8, t’ 8 pee tip [B=8],” “Today eye Eden fated (faded), pee to pee,” “Today eye Eden fey, 8 [inches] to 8, pee to pee.” “Fair Pair” suggests Sonnets/Runes.

           Minimal phallic humor about a “tipped pee” seems to connect f--king and pissing. An “I” that makes “bad tea” (or a “bad T”) also has phallic roots.

           Because the opening letterstring code suggests “Today be...,” one may hear “Today be 1 Nov. ’88....” The three “8s” (notated as Bs) may encode the date 8-8-08. Capital P suggests the forms of runic thorn (= th) and wen (= W). All these features add to the cornucopic possibilities inherent in the code(s).

             
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