Notes on Set IX: Far from Accident
Unaware of Q’s
runic game, Sonnets editors have mostly ignored the “empty
couplet” lines in Sonnet 126 as meaningless, unauthorized printer’s
“filler.” In truth, these “quietuses two” (Sonnet
126.12) work as real lines and house complex sense and wit. In Runes 125
and 126 the lines have separate jobs, while on the leaf and in Sonnet
126 they work together.
are famous lines from Q’s “misnumbered” Sonnet 116 that,
disparately, accrue new runic meanings. The pun “Let me knot two,
the marriage of true minds”—housing “mirage” and
the play “theme airy eye, a jest t’ rue, my ends”—alludes
not only to all the linked Sonnets and Runes but specifically
to the “knotty two” lines that close the set. Sonnet 116’s
own coy close, “If this be error…,” comments both on
Will (and Thomas Thorpe)’s “misnumbering” of 116 as
119 and on these two “missing” lines, which will punningly
calls “Quietuses two” that “render thee” (Sonnet
126.12). Now, when Will tells us to “admit impediments,” (Sonnet
119.2), we concede Q’s stumblingblocks but don’t “alter”
our affections upon finding the alterations (cf. “adorations”).
In a minimal
sense, the “bending sickles” of Sonnet 116 also designate
the two up-coming sets of italicized parentheses that we see in Sonnet
126, so that the “rosy lips and cheeks” that those parentheses
house are pictographically one of the poet’s referents in Sonnet
116.9. These “rendered” parentheses, reasonably accurate as
lips, also form a visual pun on fat buttocks, “cheeks” cut
in two or “rendered,” with the broadened pictograph
( )( ) implicit. The pun “Butt,
bare side out (Butt bare sight out), even to the edge of doom” (Sonnet
116.12) has these paired “cheeks” in mind, “rendered.”
The pictograph, further, may show a belted fat middle; a vacuous person;
paired gums for chewing; a crowned head; dovelike whiteness; and the “zero”
lurking in “Crow” (cf. “Crow or Dove” in Sonnet
113.12, initial in the set). Concurrently these marginalized airy spaces
are the “edge of doom” that Will mentions at Sonnet 116.12,
“rendering” the empty Unknowns that at bottom await us all
and that will “render” humankind: The top one stands for heaven,
the nether one for hell. As two “knotted” items, the empty-line
pair also show us “the marriage of jesty rumens” (cf. Sonnet
116.1). The joke is Will’s, the stomach knots ours.
probably refer also to Southampton’s moustache, also “cheeks”
in one sense, though “proving” this is a complex, cumulative
deduction. Briefly, in Rune 126, “em-peached” (13) links with
the pun “Two [empty lines] give full growth to that which still
doth grow” (3). Other puns (cf. puns, Rune 126.5-6) also point to
an in-group joke about whether Southy had looked better moustached or
clean-shaven. John Sanford’s Latin poem (1592) had praised Southy’s
beauty “although his mouth scarcely yet blooms with tender down”
(qtd. Akrigg 36).
More broadly, the
final formal “Audite” in Set IX echoes and complements
the initial aberration in Set VIII. As paired “mysteries,”
these last two lines also point forward as analogues that epitomize
the upcoming Perverse Mistress sets (X, XI)—sets that provide a
“couplet” close to the entire Q scheme, just as these two
empty lines help round off Set IX. The MegaSonnets’ couplet is ironically
vertical, not horizontal, as Q’s organization scheme helps us visualize.
(Link: How Will Wrote
The epithet “quietuses
two” also describes the blank corners of each folio leaf,
providing a corroborating clue about arrangement of materials on the spreads.
The joke in “rendering” suggests that one might doodle in
these “quietuses.” The pun “…tore end earthy”
(Rune 126.14) means “bawdy, separated toward the bottom.”
In this set, Will’s “birds”—his “Crow and
Dove”— soar higher, in the equivalent of the heavens, by coming
early in the set, and also atop Rune 124.
Maybe the two empty page
corners gave Will the idea of letting two “nothings,” two
aberrant “perverse mysteries,” gain significance in his large
plan. In the broadest sense, the “Quietuses” that still “render”—that
“show,” “divide,” and torture like a rack—are
the Runes themselves.
of other minimal wit in Set IX are the odd double T’s and
commas in Rune 113.10—where redundancies point to Thomas Thorpe,
the printer (and signer of the dedication) whose complicity was required
to see that Will’s minimal authorizations were honored through the
printing state rather than being “corrected” and edited out.
Similarly eye-catching is the gappy pictographic spacing at Sonnet 120.6,
encoding the pun “As I bare ass , ye have pastel of Tommy.”
The italicized-word string also exemplifies a likely game element.
In new conceits,
diverse materials in the set reiterate familiar themes that include vision,
heart vs. mind, separation, suffering, faithfulness, apologies for Q and
pride in it, the muse as ideal paragon and as Captain Ill—as Winner
and Waster. I draw the set title from among many other authorizations:
e.g., This Flattery; Thy Pyramid’s Built Up; The Marriage of True
Minds; Nothing Novel, Nothing Strange; This Alchemy; My Sportive Blood;
Tan, Sacred Beauty; Thy Registers.