Set I, Runes 1-14: Texts and Comments
Ninth lines, Set I (Sonnets 1-14)
Thou that art now the worlds fresh ornament,
How much more praise deserved thy beautys use!
Thou art thy mothers glass, and she in thee;
4 For having traffic with thyself alone,
Then were not summers distillation left.
Ten times thyself were happier than thou art.
But when? From highmost pitch, with wary car,
8 Mark how one string, sweet husband to another,
Look. What an unthrift in the world doth spend!
O change thy thought, that I may change my mind!
Let those whom nature hath not made for store!
12 Then of thy beauty do I question make:
Who lets so fair a house fall to decay?
But from thine eyes my knowledge I derive.
Glosses: 2) use: i.e., for procreation; 7) wary plays also on weary,wiry (see string in 8); 11) Let = Leave; store = cautious frugality;
9. A Fall from Highmost Pitch
I say to you who are now young and most beautiful that
properly applying your beauty would merit far more praise than your beauty itself merits.
You have your mothers face;
4 wherever you might be alone and self-engaged,
summers distilled essence would be presentthough it would not be perpetuated.
Ten of you would be better than the one of youand might also cheer you up.
But when will you multiply? Moving down, as it were, from a lofty point on the scale and steadied in a graceful duet by a cautious vehicle,
8 notice how two sweet strings sidling up to each other to create harmony (just the way these texts and subtexts intertwine)
might look. What a world-class waster I see!
Oh, change your attitude, so I can say Im wrong!
Escape those who are naturally improvident!
12 Then, on the subject of your beauty, let me pose a question:
Who lets so handsome a house fall into ruin?
Only your eyes answer my question.
rune has us guessing about whether the person who from Will’s
angle should be more farsighted and less dissolute is Southy, Sue, or
someone else. The play “How much more praise deserved thy beauty,
Susie” (2) and the deeper pun “My main delight—thou,
Sue, whom nature hath not made for store (history)” (10-11) both
suggest that the “world’s fresh ornament” (1) is the
poet’s older daughter; but “Sue” puns on “So”
and thus on Southy, who is much the easier to imagine as a decaying house
(13). Both the “mirror” section (3-4) and the “husbanding”
conceit (8) are ambiguous about gender. The listener does seem effeminate
or vain or both (3-5), with improvident friends who are bad influences
(11). A backhanded compliment (4-5) suggests that his self-love wastes
essences that might be better used in “husbandry” (8) to rear
a brood (6) that would keep his “house” (13) intact and thriving.
1) The hooded art know, th’ ewe, earl’s fresh “horn”
amend; Thou that art Nate, world’s [The Globe’s] fresh ornament
downward emphatic lettercode—THT FTT B M LOLT WB—suggests
such gamy possibilities as “That fit [i.e., stanza] be m’
lulled web,” “…my lull-to-be [cf. ‘lullaby’],”
“Thought fit be m’ lull: ‘To be…’,”
“Thought of T.T., B.M. lulled web,” and “That fit be
mellowed web.” With B = 8, the code suggests “That fit B.M.
(...fated hymn) lulled wight.”