Set II, Runes 15-28: Texts and Comments
(Fifth lines, Set II: Sonnets 15-28)
When I perceive that men, as plants, increase,
Now stand you on the top of happy hours.
If I could write the beauty of your eyes!
4 Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines;
Make glad and sorry, seasonsas thou fleetest,
An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
Making a couplement of proud compare
8 For all that beauty that doth cover thee.
So I, for fear of trust, forget to say
Fore, Through the painter must you see his skill.
Great princes favorites their fair leaves spread,
12 Duty so great. Which wit so poor as mine?
For thin my thoughts, from far where I abide
Andeach though enemiestwo ethers reign.
Glosses: 2) happy hours suggests an illuminated Book of Hours (see 10-11); 5) Make...seasons: i.e., Seasons bring both joy and sorrow; 6) eye suggests the sun; An eye puns on Annie, linking with Make (i.e., Mate) in 5 and Making in 7; 7) couplement = linkage (of eyes, of texts [such as Sonnets/Runes], etc.), analogy; 8) For all puns on Fore-all (phallic) and For Hall (suggesting Wills son-in-law); 9) So puns on Sue, alluding to Wills daughter Susanna, Mrs. John Hall; Judy is the other daughter; thus, e.g., the pun Sue is our fairest trustfore Judy S. aye; 12) so (twice) puns further on Sue; mine puns on m Anne (...Annie); 13) I puns on aye, eye (see 6), suggesting the sun; 14) And puns on Anne; two ethers reign puns on ...rain, suggesting, two eyes weep.
19. A Couplement of Proud Compare
At a time when I see men thriving, sprouting up like plants,
you outdo them all, standing at the very top of the illuminators page, a summer sun at noon!
If only I could describe the beauty of your eyes!
4 Sometimes the eye of heaven is too hot,
and the seasons themselves are inconstant in their effects; meanwhile you move on swiftly,
like a sun brighter than any seasons, one less fickle in your revolutions,
showing a real pair of beautiful eyes that suggest a handsome adjunct
8 to all the beauty your countenance revealsand to the proud couple who bore you. (Your eyes generate these linked texts. The sun analogy is a good one.)
Thus, feeling myself untrustworthy on the subject, Sue, I havent said your name, nor said
earlier that a painters artistry must always show in his work.
The favorite courtly artists of great princes disseminate their fine pages,
12 important work indeed. What wit, Sue, is so poorly equipped for doing this as mine?
For my thoughts are divided, meager and remote, here far from
Anne, and two contentious clusters of influence dominate and coexist, London and Stratford skies pull me apart, two spheres reign, sonnets and runes contend, two eyes weep.
auditor’s beauty (1-8) and the poet’s struggle to
convey it (9-14) form the subject matter. Developing a usual Renaissance
conceit, the octave compares an admirable subject to the sun— life-giving,
“ethereal,” “happy.” Extended playfulness devolves
from the paradox that the listener’s two eyes become one orb: e.g.,
“ether’s rain” (14) suggests tears from the two “warring”
eyes, contradicting the earlier suggestion of unity and “steadfastness”
(see 6). Concurrently, the pun in “eye” (4, 6) on phallic
“I” allows alternate conclusions about which of the friend’s
attributes is actually “shining.” “Low” readings
intrude because the “couplement of proud come-pair” (7)—”two
ethers” that “reign/rain” (14)—may be testicles,
another kind of “eyes.”
stressing men, with phallic innuendo; Wen I perceived, Hat.-menace
plain; m’ Annie supplants increase; many supple ends in crease;
sin see, erase
downward emphatic acrostic codeline—WN IS MAM F S F
GD FA—suggests such readings as “When is ‘Memphis’
fadged [fitted together in parts], fey?” “When is Memphis
of good faith?” “Wen [protuberance, like a hill] is Memphis…,”
“W. nice Ma’am fast f--ked, fey,” “When is m’
Ham[net] fast, fadged fey?” “When is Ma’am fist-f--ked
fey?” “ W. Annie S. maim, fist-f--k, defy,” and “Wen
is m’ aim (Wens maim), fist-f--k defy.”