Set III, Runes 29-42: Texts and Comments
Sixth lines, Set III (Sonnets 29-42)
(Sixth lines, Set III: Sonnets 29-42)
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
For precious friends hid in deaths dateless night
Hath dear religious love stoln from mine eye
4 And though they be outstripped by every pen
With ugly rack on his celestial face
To dry the rain on my storm-beaten face,
Authórizing thy trespass with compare.
8 Though in our lives a separable spite
Oer any of these all, or all, or more,
Worthy perusal stand against thy sight,
And our dear love lose name of single one.
12 I cannot blame thee for my love thou usest:
Beauteous thou arttherefore, to be assailed.
Thou dost love her because thou knowst I love her.
Glosses:1) him (twice) suggests this or that man but may mean death (see 2), friends (2), and/or love (3); 3) puns on Anne: Hath., mAnnie; 4) they = my eyes, punning th eye (see 3); 5) rack = cloud mass, instrument of torture; his = every pens (see 4) and thus any writers; 6) To puns on Two ( = my eyes); 12) for = because; 13) to puns again on two (eyes); 14) her may mean our love (see 3, 11, 12) or this expression of it. The righthand profile of the text (with an ugly rack protruding or indented in lines 4-5) looks like an authorized pictographic element, illustrating such clues as Featured (1), eye (3), face (5, 6). Line 10 seems to challenge a reader to puzzle out the profile. Puns on Anne and the phrase a separable spite suggest it may be an unflattering picture of the poets scowling wife. A separable spite is a conceit for the Q texts.
34. A Separable Spite
Looking like death, like death preoccupied with companionship,
for precious friends hidden in deaths eternal darkness
I have wept, sweet devotional love stealing from my eye
4 even though my weeping eyes seem to be attacked and outdone by every writer
whose affectedly pious face clouds into tears,
a fact that tends to dry up the rain on my storm-beaten face
but may encourage your own crying, perhaps also helping to generate some poetic conceit for your lapse.
8 Though there are divisive antagonisms in our lives
triggered by any or all of these verses or based on other transgressions Ive suggested,
let careful scrutiny assert itself in front of your eyes, noticing what a first glance might miss,
and, my love, youll findthough this cycle is bifurcated and no love poem here has a name youll rememberthat our love has gained through these diverse descriptions of it that link the two of us.
12 I cant blame you for abusing my love or for employing it to your purposes.
Youre beautiful and therefore are made to be assailed by admirersand to assail all eyes.
You love our love, and this expression of it, because you know that I do.
with what the comic context tells us must be pseudo piety and
mock melancholy, this lament voices with other sonnets and runes in Set
III the poets frustration, real or feigned.
Line 13 generates puns, likely topical, on Howard, Hereford obese, and Toby.
The repetition of the endwords eye and face and the focus of the runic text on features, on beauty and ugliness, and on crying all lead me to think that the righthand “profile” of this paste-up text might be intended to imitate a grotesque face, with a recessed indention just where the eye might come—and with a cronelike chin below and “ugly rack” above. Such manipulation of the lengths of lines for pictographic purposes would have been possible at the draft stage, but only approximately. (One remembers that the lines did not occur in a visually perceptible sequence unless Will wrote them out that way.)
It’s even more of an open question for me whether the “Hugh-John” whose name sometimes seems to crop up in Q is consciously alluded to or just a happenstance of the language code; a “lost Huchown” (variously spelled) was once much discussed as the great missing poet of Chaucer’s era. My own theories link this “Huchown (i.e.,Hugh-John) of the Royal Hall” with the “Mr. Massey” whose name also occurs in the writings of Hoccleve, one of Chaucer’s students. Hoccleve seems to praise Massey for his arcane practices. (See lines 7-8, below.)
See a turd, lick ’im, lick ’im; Petered like him
(Q eyepun—with “F” a filed “P”?); sea-turtle,
aye, camel, I came; hymn; Hamlick, Hamwit; mute, serene Dis; this rune
experienced reader/player senses here that the downward codeline
embeds a strained but insistent form of “Hathaway”—essentially
spelled out as HAWT...O WAI, but with an intervening T that gives the
codestring the character of a close anagram; the name is also encoded
as AT O WAI. Concurrently, a player hears “wife” in
the upward letterstring WAHFF. This combination—coupled with
the knowledge that Q makes recurrent jokes about Anne’s obesity
and that B = 8 (and thus phonic “eight”)—allows a player
to find both “fat” (code FFHAWT) and “weighty”
(code WAI8-T) lurking in the letterstrings. Even “wedded
wife” (code WOTAT WAHFF) emerges. This wifely humor links
with similarly focused wit in the linear text.