Set II, Runes 15-28: Texts and Comments
Sixth lines, Set II (Sonnets 15-28)
(Sixth lines, Set II: Sonnets 15-28)
Cheered and checked evn by the self-same sky,
And many maiden gardens yet unset
And in fresh, numbers number all your graces,
4 And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
Anddo whateer thou wilt, swift-footed time
Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth
With sun and moon, with earth and seas rich gems,
8 Is but the seemly raiment of my heart.
The perfect ceremony of loves wright,
To find where your true image pictured lies,
But (as the marigold at the suns eye)
12 May make seem bare, in wanting words to show it.
Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee;
Do, in consent, shake hands to torture me.
Glosses: 1) checked puns on chequered (like an acrostic gameboard); 2) gardens suggests knot-gardens and thus (unwritten) poems; the line puns, e.g., Anne, m Annie, made a neger dance (...may eat a neger dense). Why et [= and = Anne], Ands [= Anne S.] et..., with complex plays on eat/et/et/and/Anne; 3) And in continues the Anne/Anne humor; in fresh = just planted; numbers = verses; 4) his = the skys (see 1), implying both the sun (see 7) and your (see 3); 5) time implies meter (see 3); 6) it = my heart (see 8), punning on my art and implying the sun; 7) sun puns on son (see 4, 11), i.e., Wills dead son, Hamnet; 8) seemly puns on seamly (i.e., patched together, as Sonnets and Runes are), with heart punning on art; 9) wright (Q right): also, right (prerogative); 11) But = Merely; 13) Intend = Take note of; 14) consent puns on cunt-scent.
20. The Seemly Raiment of My Art
Heartened and held back by the same fickle sky,
with many virgin knot-rows yet to be lined out
or freshly planted, my verses enumerate all your graces,
4 but with that sky often clouded over, hiding its essential brilliance.
Now, whatever time or my own dashed-off verses may do,
decorating the subject that my heart gazes on
with conceits of sun and moon, with the rich gems of earth and sea,
8 is merely the suitable (but gored) raiment my heart (and art) provides.
This appropriate ritual, practiced by loves craftsman as loves prerogative,
the act of discovering where the right conceit for your true image lies,
maylike a marigold held up in the face of the sun
12 merely convey bareness, for lack of the words to picture you as you are.
Take note of a devout quest toward you;
if you want to torment me, acknowledge it with a handshake.
text laments the frustrations of a hard writing project undertaken
to honor an unnamed auditor who’s remote, fickle, and maybe unappreciative;
the vacillations here inher more strictly in the two-pronged text than
in the ostensible subject—so that the “shaking hands”
(14) that torture the poet may well be his own. In any case, the anxieties
about the cycle and its eventual acceptance and fate seem real. The texture
is thick, the syntax elliptical, the coherence dependent on double meanings
and puns in the figures that allow the poet to shift his conceits: planting
a garden, gilding and clothing an image, performing a “ceremony”
of adoration, making a pilgrimage. “Checked” (1), meaning
variegated or checkered, governs and describes the poem, with its catalog
of mixed conceits. Puns on “seamly” and “seam”
(8, 12)—“pieced together”—are also strategic.
See Harry dainty (dandy), cheeked
downward lefthand acrostic codeline—CAAAAG WITT B MID—suggests
such readings as, e.g., “Cagy wit B.M. eyed [cf. below, ‘Cagy
wit be midden-issue…’],” “Cagy wight be maid,”
“See, Age Witty beamed (be 1499),” and “See a Jew, aye
T.T. B.M. eyed.”