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Shakespeare’s Lost Sonnets: A Restoration of the Runes
by Roy Neil Graves, Professor of English
The University of Tennessee at Martin

Set IX, Runes 113-126: Texts and Comments 
Copyright © Roy Neil Graves 2003, All Rights Reserved        

Proceed to Rune 114
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Rune 113
First lines, Set IX (Sonnets 113-126)

                          Rune 113

     (First lines, Set IX: Sonnets 113-126)

     Since I left you, mine eye is in my mind—
     Or whether doth my mind. Being crowned with you,
     Those lines that I before have writ do lie,
 4  Let me not to the marriage of true minds.
     Accuse me thus: That I have scanted all,
     Like as to make our appetites more keen.
     What potions have I drunk of siren tears,
 8  That you were once unkind befriends me, now
     ’Tis better to be. Vial then vile esteemed,
     Thy gift, thy tables are within my brain.
     No! Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change!
12 If my dear love were but the Child of State,
     Were’t aught to me I bore the canopy?
     Owe thou, my lovely boy, who in thy power.
     Glosses: 1) puns: phallic “I,” m’ Annie; 2) whether doth my mind = whatever my mind does, whatever my thoughts; 3) Those lines...writ = lines 1 and 2 here, and/or all earlier lines in Q; 3-4) one sense is that the poet’s earlier verses are impediments that keep him from “marrying true minds”; 5) all puns on “[Dr. John] Hall,” the poet’s son-in-law, and on “awl” (phallic); 7) What = Whatever; siren tears “whet appetities” (see 6); 9) better puns on bitter, and then, on thin; 10) tables = banquets, columns of verse texts; 11) change is a monetary pun; 13) aught (Q ought) also denotes ought, suggesting duty, owed, and “O” (see 14); Owe (Q shows O); the line suggests, “You own [i.e., control, acknowledge]...those in your power.”

       113. I Bore the Canopy

     Since I left you, what I see is in my mind
     and on the paths it takes. With you as their crowning feature,
     those lines that I wrote before this one don’t tell the whole truth,
  4 thus barring me from the company of right thinkers who see things exactly as they are—and blocking my union with you and the reunion of Sonnets and Runes here.
     I may justly be accused of having come short in every respect,
     whetting all our appetites for more.
     Whatever potions of siren tears I’ve drunk, filling me with frustration,
  8 the fact that you were once unkind to me stands me in good stead now that
     things have improved in my life. Potions once thought bitter,
     your gift to me, the fare you offered, these thinly columned summaries of what you are—these remain within my brain.
     No, time cannot gloat that I am proven fickle.
12 If my dear love were just a princely child—and not, as I said before, a crowning glory—
     would I complain about having been his canopy-bearer?
     You, my lovely boy, are indebted to those in your power and should acknowledge that.



          Rune 113 regroups first lines in a new set, Set IX, which comprises visible sonnets 113-126. Runes 113-126, hidden horizontally in the warp-and-woof set arrangement, recycle some familiar materials to comment in new ways on recurring themes in Q: vision, heart vs. mind, separation, suffering, faithfulness, apologies for Q and pride in it, and the muse as ideal paragon and as “Captain Ill”—as Winner and Waster.

           In the role of first editor of the Runes, one game I play with them—following clues in the Q lines themselves including puns on “set”—is that of trying to derive not only apt titles for individual texts but also to pick suitable set titles from Will’s coy suggestions. For Set IX, now beginning, I’ve settled on the rubric “Far from Accident”—rejecting other authorized possibilities such as these phrases: This Flattery; Thy Pyramid’s Built Up; The Marriage of True Minds; Nothing Novel, Nothing Strange; This Alchemy; My Sportive Blood; Tan, Sacred Beauty; and Thy Registers.

           This particular rune, about frustrated love, comments on Will’s estrangement from the “once unkind” beloved—rationalizing the separation as fruitful for producing these poems, however scanty and inaccurate they are, and then asserting the poet’s continued devotion.

           Will seems to contemplate a vaguely-rendered figurative scenario: Once, on some state occasion, the friend was “kingly” and condescending, and Will was cast as “canopy-bearer”—with a puerile pun on “can o’ pee.” The event seems like a coronation (2), royal wedding (4), or other processional event (13), highlighted by a banquet (6, 10). Will has remained a loyal subject (11) and would be so even if the king were a mere prince (12)—one too young to marry or assume the throne. Because this regal incident is set in his memory, the poet has lost “access” to this eye-appealing (1) coronation or marriage and especially its banquet (10) so that now “appetite [is] more keen.” Will construes this condition of longing as a beneficial upshot of the regal friend’s supercilious behavior. Thus his friend, though once “vile,” still has the poet’s favorable regard, and a Machiavellian maxim (9) punningly justifies his behavior: “’Tis better to be vile than vile esteemed.”

           The reverie here has mental action as its dominant motif. Linked terms are “my mind” (1, 2), “true minds” (4), “my brain” (10), and “the canopy” (13). (“I bore the canopy” jokes, “I trepan…, “ “I drill into your head,” “I gull [deceive] the brain.”) Complements to this cerebral motif include “sense” (1); “being crowned” (2); “ken” (6); “me know” (8); “esteemed” (9); and “those lines [cerebral fissures, brain-made verses] that…do lie” (3). “That” puns routinely on “thought,” and “Hat potions” (7) and “Hat you wear” (8) are also “head” puns. “Awl Wit” (see the acrostic AL WTT) suggests a trepan or drill for boring into the mind. “Marriage of true minds” suggests linking two halves of a brain—a metaphor for the seamless linkage of Sonnets and Runes.

           Foiling the “head” figures is diction about “appetites” (6) that includes “potions have I drunk” (7); “tears” (7); “vial” (9); “tables” (10); “change” (11, suggesting fickleness); and plays on “Lick” and “stomach” (6). “Wheat potions…” (7) suggests alcoholic drink. Other food-and-eating puns include “deer” (1-2, 12); “oats bitter” (8-9); “cheese” (11-12); “knife” (1, s = f); “a root in my bran” (10); “no thyme, thou salt not boeuf” (11); “no (know, now) pie, oat” (13-14); “labia” (14), i.e., lips; and “pour” (14).

           Scattered puns on “eye” and phallic “I” suggest both mental action—sight—and appetite as lust, the implicit idea in 1. “Eye half-scanted awl” (5) and “eye bore” (13) are examples, with “I” being a pictographic “awl.” Linked are “scenes” (1) and “siren tears” (7)—both requiring “eyes.” The monetary pun in “I do change” triggers secondary meanings in “tables” (10, as money tables); “crowned” (2, moneyed), “scanted” (5, suggesting miserliness); and “ought/owe” (13-14).

           Minimalist wit
includes oddly repeated T’s and commas (10) that point to Thomas Thorpe, known to be the “T.T.” of Q’s riddlic dedication. It was Thorpe, surely, who saw to it that Will’s gamy jot-and-tittle “errors” were honored through the printing stage rather than being “corrected” and edited out; such errors, however, can hardly be “upon [Will] proved” (see Sonnet 116.13-14, in a “misnumbered” Q text headed “119.”) “Thorpe-puns” include “Thy jest, Tommy T[horpe]., ably soured within my brain” (10). “Those” (3) encodes “Thos.” The acrostic TTT is insistent.

           Among many possibilities, the rune may also be heard as Will’s comment on John and Susanna Hall’s marriage in Stratford in June 1607. Details encouraging this reading include “Since I left you, m’ Annie is in my mind” (1); “O thou my love boy. Who? John [Q in]...” (14) and “my lovely boy who win (...hoeing) thy bower” (14); “Accuse meatus, that ‘I’ half-scanted, Hall” (5); the line about “marriage of true minds” (4); the pun “S.-teamed” (4, 9); thoughts about a “dear love” and “child” not born noble (12); and recollection of some ceremony, with Will in a lowly role (13). The pun “Hall I kiss to make our appetites more kin (morgan)” (5-6) includes a likely play on “morganatic” (OED 1727, from L.), a glancing joke about marriage between two people of mismatched rank. On some level of playfulness or seriousness, this and other poems show Will flirting with the notion of a physical relationship with his son-in-law—here “my lovely Boy.”

           Having Henry Wriothesley (Harry Southampton, Will’s only known patron) and John [=IN = W] Hall appear ambiguously as concurrent contenders for the “beautiful boy” slot also seems to be what Will intended. “My lovely boy W.H. owe in diaper” (14) umbrellas both men. Here “Haue writ doe lie” (3) links Wriothesley (pron. Rizley, Roseley, Ridley) with “riddle-y,” joking, in effect, “How is that name pronounced, anyway, Harry?” Another Southy pun is “That able S. [Ass], Harry, (...our) Wit Hen., my Baron” (10).

           Will’s “lovely boy” is also in one sense his own offspring text—continuing the metaphor of a “mirage” (4)—the marriage of sonnets and runes that is not what it appears on the surface to be.

Sample Puns

          1) As Ancile lofty, humane ascend, mime end; Sin see, eye lass, t’ you my Nicene hymn; Eumenias eye in my mind; Ass in Silas, Tommy neighs; you my Nicean mime end; mini-“I” seen, minimed; Since I left you, m’ Annie, I sin may amend; mine “I” neighs in my men dear; easing my mind
          1-2) my nicest enemy may endure (endear) W.H.; …I sin—my man, dear W.H., et hard; …my Annie S., enemy mine (mine dour, mined ore); I sin mime [the witch of] Endor
          2) Crow endowed you; “O” rude here doth my mime end; do theme amend; C-row, zero; my mind be in check
          2-3) end-chequer, own doughty, hued hose
          3) Thou Saul eye, an ass [cf. Endor 1-2]; Thos. aligns that I before half-writ daily; Those lines t’ Hat-I-Be sour, Have-awry idle eye; Thos., align ass; Thou feeling (feline) ass, the types of rover eyed Dolly; River; doily, Daily; eye beef o’ reeve, Wriothesley (Ridley)
          3-4) heavy riddle I laid, my knot; before half-red (half-read) Delilah, Tommy noted hemorrhage after Eumenides
          4) dimmer, eye a jester you may end; Lady (laddie) men owed too; Let me knot two, the marriage oft rheum ends; the mirage oft ruminates; the mirage, oft roomy
          4-5) mar a rage of true mind, asses; my rage of rumen-diseases made you stout
          5) “Ass, you see Methuselah [“misspelled”],” seconded Hall; Ass you see meaty, huss’d, Hat-I-way’s cunted awl; I half-scanted Hall; t’ Hathaway is cunt idol; eye half F. Sand[dells]
          5-6) ass, cunt et all (et al, et Hall); addle like a stomacher; cunt idle I kissed to make whore appetites more keen; Ass, use meatus that I have as cunt, Ed’ll lick ass, too; aye half-scant t’ addle Lancaster, my crape tights
          6) Like ass, Tommy—cur, a pet—I’d ease; eye cast o’ my carpet (I tease Morgan [le Fay?]); O, you rape Titus, Morgan; Like a stomach, our appetites; Lick ass, to make our appetites Moor-keen
          6-7) Titus murky anew hate; cur appetite is more keen, W.H. ate potions heavy, drunk…; reeky newt-pot I own; ’tis my O reeky—nude, bawdy, unshaved rune
          6-8) a new hat bawdy…that you wear once
          7) in shaved (shoddy, shout-)rune, kiss serenity, erase thought; eyed rune-key: Officer enters; in caves ye ran t’ Harry S.
          7-8) Th’ Tower, once unkind, befriends mean Otis (manatees); eye drunk officer tear assed Hathaway, runes unkind befriend Simeon, Otis (simian Otis); erase th’ Turin scene
          8) T’ Hat-you-way, rune scene can kind be
          8-9) notice Bet erred (heard); notice better “To be”; minnow t’ eye is bitter
          9) ’Tis bitter tup evil, t’ Hen. Willy is teamed; vial thin Willy’s t’ emit (omit); ’Tis bitter to be violating vial, ass-teamed; file [instrument for altering type pieces] thin vile “S” tamed
        10) Titty; Thy gift, T.T., edibles are within my Baronet (my B-rune…); a bull soured is aye rooting my brain
        10-11) edible, sour, weedy Anne may be our anodyne, eat offal; sir, within may be rune naughty; Thickest thighed Abel, serrating my barren, naughty, mad household; within my barren “O,” timid house
        11) faulty note bossed [decorated] t’ Hat. I do change; Naughty maid awful tenant be; Knot eye, m’ thief Hall; eye meadow, S. Hall; S. Hall tin-ode busted; halt knot buffeted, I’d “O” change [cf. “changed” typeface in Rune 109.7]; eye Titus hang
        11-12) T.T. had ideas—Angevin ideas; Ann give Madeira; t’ Hat., Ida’s Angevin
        12) “Y”-femmy; linepun: cf. “If Sue [or Hall] were only royalty”
        12-13) T.T. has Hilda’s fatty turd; Ovid a turd owed Tommy; lure bawdy child, destituted, to me; If Mother Love were beauteous hill, deaf Shakespeare ate [his] word, O
A “turd-otomy” I bored, hissing o’ piety homely
Weird, odd tome I bore, the can o’ pee; Weird ode Tommy borrowed
Tommy aborts an opiate homily
O, Tommy, lovely Boy W.H., joined I, poor; Boy W.H. owe in diaper; W.H., O, joined t’ High Power; Ode, homily of Libbie, windy, poor; bow, windy peer; bow windy; buoyant Hyperion; windy Hyperion [cont. in 114.1]

Acrostic Wit

          As usual in first-line texts, the acrostic has a double-columned (or “ladder”) structure that amplifies the possibilities for arranging the codeline. Perhaps the most obvious codeline form is the down/down letterstring—SOTL A LWT TT NYV[V]OIR HEC IHHIT OFET. Some of its many readings aim wit at “T.T.,” Thomas Thorpe, Will’s printing agent and (I deduce) his collaborator in the Q scheme.

          Possibilities for reading this code include, e.g., “Subtle, all wit newer…,” “Subtle awl-wit new, O...,” “Subtly lewd, nigh woe, erase it… (T.T. never has eyed Ovid),” “Subtle awl wit knew…,” “Sot lay, lewd T.T., nigh woe ( you [...ewe])…,” “Sue t’ lay low t’ T.T., never he’s eyed ‘O’ fit,” “Subtle, a lute, T.T. nigh voir Hecate, Ovid [Hecate ‘O’ fit],” and “‘Subtle’ eluded T….”

          Other codeline permutations (including various “hairpins”) encode a cornucopia of ambiguous wit that is to some degree authorially contrived. The letterstring ALTO, “high” on the (upward) acrostic totem pole, is part of Will’s joke.

          One up/up variant of the acrostic—TE FOT IHHIC EHR IO[V]VYN T TT WL ALTO S—is an exact reverse of the codeline just discussed.

         This alternate code yields such interpretations as, e.g., “If Otis err, John t’ T.T. will halt O’s,” “Devotees Harry, John, T.T., Will alto [high; a halt] is,” “Tee! Footy [metrical] is a rune tit-willow’ll toss [note the iambic pentameter],” “…O wen-tool alto [high] is [ass],” “…O, unite T. T., Will—awl to ass,” “T[horpe] footy eyes a run[e], tight [tied] Will, all toes,” “T’ footy Icarean, tidy Will, all toes,” “To footy Icarean, ‘tide-y’ Will alto [high] is [punning on altos, sings aloft],” “T’ footy, icy run[e], T.T.-twilled O’s [hose],” “…O whine, T.T., t’ Will, Alto Ass,” and/or “…alto [high] hiss.”

Proceed to Rune 114
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