Set XI, Runes 141-154: Texts and Comments
Fourth lines, Set XI (Sonnets 141-154)
144. My Woeful State: She Merits Not Re-proofing
Whoever enjoys this ms. despite all her apparent problems,
including you, will find that doting on her is welcome and re-proofing unnecessary.
Pursuing the very thing this ms. encourages, you should leave her as she is, abiding
4 her darker nature, for she comes off as an ill-humored, botched-looking mistress
only because she has been privy to my pitiful situation and the miserable state of this text
as I try to brighten up the walls of this your monument like some whited sepulcher
to please the fickle, finicky tastes
8 of negative people apt to make unfair judgments. What such onlookers actually see here
is of my own making, and its for your sake that I manage things with an iron hand.
Now, if you openly confirm the blackness you see here and swear you see nothing bright,
your sweet self proves absolutely guiltless of any of my faults
12 by being vehemently critical of me. Later (and with such a ceremonial dissociation being imagined as behind you) a new strain of affection and affirmation stirred forcefully
from within a coldly productive crevice of that faulted ground
and rippled byall in an innocent-looking schoolgirl script that was quite unlike this poets tyrant hand, which Ive characterized here as inky dark and error-ridden.
Clouding the meanings of the 28 visible Q texts from Sonnet 126 onwardand of the 28 Runes that now emerge as different permutations of the same linesis the enigmatic female figure traditionally called the Dark Lady or Perverse Mistress of the Sonnets. I read this figure mainly as Wills personification of his own writing project, the perverse Q texts themselves: She is his Mistress/Mysteries, his Mystery sighs (a pun, e.g., in Sonnet 130.1), his ms. or mss., with Is that are Rauen blacke (see Sonnet 127.9) and with wiry black hairs that are like textual lines, honored why-ers (see Sonnet 130.4). Confined in his writing chamber and engaged in a love/hate relationship with her, Will surely felt the pleasurable stress she inflictedeven as we do now, but much more so. For in her hands lay two reputations, his own, as writer, and that of the handsome, nameless muse whom he sought, by writing the Q texts, to honor and immortalize. Hence, I believe, this famous love triangle: Poet, Friend, and Dark Mistress.
knotty drama of Rune 144, then, I read the female worser
spirit (4) as the perverse runic text itself, and I see her foil,
the blithe maiden hand (12-14), as a figure for the Sonnetswritten,
so to speak, in fair copy. Addressing his friend (8ff.) as
a sweet self, Will criticizes finicky tastes (7-8), takes
responsibility for whatever in Q does not please (see 1, 7),
andin a good girl saves the hour codapaints a
brighter day scenario. Foilscontrastive pairs that add
texture and dramainclude the blithe and perverse maidens, which
I read as emblems for the Sonnets and Runes, along with such pairs as
men and women, tolerant and picky readers, and realistic and romantic
writers. In the end the maiden enters the scene as a gracefully
cursive deus ex machinaa mechanistic resolution flowing from the
fissure of Wills jetty wellspring (13).
The usual rule in Q applies: One reading of a text does not rule out others that the text may suggest—though the goal of the reader/player is always to find the best interpretation.
1) Hugh-John Dis picked; Windy spigots 5 use; I jet of Swiss
place did ode (audit); W.H. Owen despised; Windy fib I jet, a few I supply;
eye wasp, leafd (least) toad; aye wasp listed; pee aloft, too
The downward acrostic codeline—WAIT B PTT AALIIC—suggests topical readings focused on Wyatt, the antecedent sonneteer, and Waite, possibly a figure involved in the seditious, ill-fated uprising that landed the Earl of Southampton, one possible auditor here, in the Tower of London (see Akrigg 116). Concurrently, WAIT may encode wight (i.e., creature), white, weight, wait, weighty, wit, Wade, weed, weedy, and witty.
Possible readings of this codeline include these: “Waite be petty ally, I see,” Wight (Waite..., Wyatt...) be petty, awl aye I see, Wight bepity, all icy (awl assy; a lassie), White be petty awl icy, White be puddly ice (petals), Weighty be pet, Alice, White be Pit [in the Globe], alack, White be pittail I see, White be petal, icy, White be petals, White be pet I lick, Waite bepity, alack! White (weight) be pee, T.T., eye Alice, Wyatt (Waite) be fatally icy, and Wyatt be petty, all lies
The upward (reverse) codeline—CIILAAT TPBT IAW—can be read, e.g., See I a lady (laddie) pee bit, I awe (bitty O), Chilly T.T. [titty] pity I owe, Silly type, Betty, Sea eye, laddie, tub t yaw [veer], and Silly 8 tupped jaw.
string suggestsWhite be Pit, alack! Chilly, eye typed (tight) jaw,
Waite be fatally killed t pity, O, and Wyatt be
piddly acolyte type t you (yaw).”