Set II, Runes 15-28: Texts and Comments
Third lines, Set II (Sonnets 15-28)
(Third lines, Set II: Sonnets 15-28)
That this huge stage presenteth, nought but shows
And Fortify Yourself in Your Decay,
Though yet, heavn knows, it is but as a tomb:
4 Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger's jaws,
A womans gentle heart but not acquainted
Who heavn itself for ornament doth use;
8 But when in thee times furrows I behold,
Or some fierce thing replete with too much rage,
My body is the frame wherein tis held,
Whilst Iwhom fortune of such triumph bars
12 To thee I send this written ambassage.
But then begins a journey in my head
When days oppression is not eased by night.
Glosses: 1) this huge stage = the world (suggesting The Globe); 2) Fortify...Decay suggests a morality play, contrasting with shows (1), a term implying frothy entertainment; 4) Rough winds puns on Runes; 6-7) i.e., Only a beautiful, ingenuous woman not being familiar [with the harshness of life]; 11) Whilst I = Will Shakespeare [st = the routine family name cipher, a long s shaking a spear-like t], I/...eye; such is an eyepun on f--k in Q; 12) pun: ...Toothy, eye Ass Anne t hiss; writ, a name be sage (...besiege/...beseech).
17. This Written Ambassage
Thats all this huge stage presents, nothing but light froth
or some tedious morality about human mutability and the need to prepare for death,
though as yetas the heavens can seethis house is empty, this Globe is like a tomb.
4 The same rough winds that shake Mays pretty blossoms
leave the fierce tiger toothless
facts of life confronted by everybody except some gentle-hearted woman
saintly and innocent enough to ornament the heavens.
8 But when I see time plough even you like a field
or envision some fierce creature full of rage ravishing you,
my own body becomes its cage
while I, barred by circumstances from any such heroismI
12 send off this diplomatic letter to you.
The trouble is that at that point a journey begins in my head
as night does not ease the days oppression, and death does not release me.
topic of Set II—the poet’s struggles—persists
in this bleak comment on mutability and isolation. His “huge stage”
is The Globe, the world, a stage in life, and (ironically) this little
poem—one phase of the “journey in my head” (13) that
we see unfolding.
Tee! Hat’s Huge Stage presenteth naught but Susan S.; this huge
Shakespeare [= st, the name cipher] Age; foes; naughty (nude)
downward emphatic acrostic codeline—TATR PAW B OM WT
BW—suggests such readings as “Tatter th’ web, homme,
wit be you,” “T.T., our pay…,” “Tighter,
paw bow [i.e., pick at the knot], mute beau,” “Tight our paw,
bum-wit be W.,” “T’ hate our paw [i.e., our hand, punning
‘writing’]…,” “Taught, rip a web, homme,
wit be you,” “Tatter paw, bow mute be you,” and “Tighter
paw, bow mute, be W.” Bermuda (1640, cf. B OM W T) may be
anachronistic. AW-8-OM encodes “autumn.” PAW echoes
“tiger” (cf. 5). TATR suggests “Theatre”
(see comments above).