Return to Index Page: Shakespeare’s Lost Sonnets

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

Set VI, Runes 71-84: Texts and Comments
Copyright © Roy Neil Graves 2003, All Rights Reserved        

Proceed to Rune 84
Return to the Index of Set VI

Rune 83
Thirteenth lines, Set VI (Sonnets 71-84)

                         Rune 83

     (Thirteenth lines, Set VI: Sonnets 71-84)

     Least the wise world should look into your moan;
     For I am shamed by that which I bring forth!      
     This thou preceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong:
 4  The worth of that is that which it contains.      
     Thus do I pine and surfeit day by day.
     For as the sun is, daily new and old,
     These offices, so oft as thou wilt look.
 8  But thou art all my art, and dost advance;                         
     Then thank him not for that which he doth say.           
     Then if he thrive and I be cast away,
     You still shall live (such virtue hath my pen),
12 And their gross painting might be better. Used,
     There lives more life in one of your fair eyes!        
     You to your beauteous blessings add a curse.
     Glosses: 1) your moan = this lament, your response to it; should puns on S. Hall (see shall in 11); 5) pine and surfeit suggests someone in labor; 6) sun puns on son; 7) These offices = duties, “offspring” poems; 8) Puns: art all = hard awl (phallic); my art = merd (dung), my heart, my “hard”; 9) him = my art (8), punning on “hymn”; him not puns on Hamnet, Will’s son, and on “hymn knot” (i.e., lyric riddle); 12) their may refer to These offices (7) and/or your...eyes (13); curse is an eyepun on “curve,” which suggests a “round” (and thus a rune), a pregnant belly, a smile, and something not “straight” or true; yours fair eyes puns on “...fairies,”“...fair ass,” and “usuries.” 

     83. That Which I Bring Forth

     Thoughtful people should pay no attention to your lament (which is like that of a disappointed father);
     for it is I who bear the shame of what I give birth to!
     You understand this, and it strengthens your passion:
  4 The value of your love is self contained (and not in its object); the value of what I produce is in its substance.
     Thus day after day, like a laboring wife, I both languish and experience superabundance.
     For, just as the sun (or a son) is both new and routine each day,
     so these duties appear, my offspring poems, whenever you notice them.
  8 But you are the source of my productivity, and make advances;
     then don’t credit my art for what it says.
     Thus if my art shall thrive, and I be put aside,
     you still shall live—my pen has such effectiveness and “wifely” virtue—
12 and the crude representation of these efforts (and of your eyes) also remains imperfect; in actuality and in normal operation,
     either of your beautiful eyes has more life in it than what I have created!
     As I have said, you are directly responsible for fathering this cursed adjunct to your bounteous beauty.


          This rune about Will’s creativity and the listening friend’s response to it likens the poet to a laboring wife or mistress giving birth to offspring art that the friend fathers but—after advancing (8) to hear (9) and see (12) it—finds lamentable, something to “moan” (1) and “curse” (14) over. The pun “that witch I bring forth” (2) characterizes the bastard Runes and helps explain why Will’s auditor might finally “add a curse” (14). In Q’s form curfe, the overlaid eyepun “curve” suggests something rounded--maybe an eye shape, a written flourish, or the “female” form the friend has engendered in the speaking (male) poet. The “curve” may also be a pregnant belly; a smile (antithetical to a “curse”); a “round” and thus a rune; or—as we still might say—a surprise ball thrown crooked.

          Terms and puns that suggest labor and child-bearing include “wife,” “moan” (1); “I am famed [i.e., made whorish] by that which I bring forth” (2); “Th’ huss, do I pain and surfeit” (5); “the son” (6); “these offices” (7), implying wifely duties; “that which [the offspring] doth say” (9), perhaps just a loud bawl; “if he thrive” (10); “still shall live” (11), paradoxically suggesting stillbirth; and “gross panting” (12). “Make” in Will’s day meant “mate” (see 3). Subtextual phallic wit about the listening friend’s “awl,” “hard,” and “advances” add sexual comedy. And Will’s “Pen” is suitably phallic. A crude eyepun always lurks in Q’s form such, which looks like fuch (11).

           Economic terms and puns include leased,” “your money” (1), “worth,” “owes” (4), “offices” (7), “advance” (8), “thrive” (10), “gross,” “mite” (12), “more,” “one,” (13), “be less,” and “add” (14). Terms about eyes include “look” (1, 7), “perceivest” (3), and “one of your fair eyes” (13). A “gross painting” (12)—to which one might “add a curve”—has visual appeal, of course, and the Sun (6) is the “eye of heaven.”

           Because Q’s “shamed” is an eyepun on “famed,” line 2 shows the runic capacity of concurrent contradiction, also apparent in curse/curve (14)—and indeed routine in Q’s printed forms. Typical examples here of “automatic” puns are wise/wife; should/fold/fooled/fouled; moan/money (1); love/low (3); which/witch (4); sun/son (6); say/fey/fay (9); then/thin; thrive/through (10); shall/fall; live/low (11); gross/gruff/grows; used/versed/viced/wifed (12); more/moor; life/leaf; and fair/Sire/sere (13).

          Given that s and f look alike, Q’s form groffe (12) even puns on “giraffe”! The pun “my pendant, hairy giraffe panting” (11-12) gains phallic innuendo in context.

           The punning joke “There lives more life in one of your fairies...” (13) may mock effete courtier friends of Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton, Will’s only known patron, plausibly “Harry” or “Southy,” a man who once spent time in The Tower. Overlaid earl-roasting puns in 13-14 include, e.g., “The Earl I use, m’ whore lies anon, O. If you’re S., Harry S., why, owe [i.e., admit] Tower be odious. Be laughing, sad, as you rise.” (Any play in Q on “Riz...” puns on “Wriothesley,” pronounced “Rizley.”) Southampton is a traditional favorite for the slot of “Mr. W.H.” (the Earl’s initials reversed) named in Q’s puzzling dedication, which is signed “T.T.” and thus implicates Thomas Thorpe, known to be Will’s printing agent.

           Q forms play rampantly on the name Will (see 7), and scholars have already suggested that “And” in Q may pun on Anne (e.g., see 12). Puns about Will’s daughter Susannah (Mrs. John Hall) include, e.g., “Used t’ ill, S. Hall lives if you see her too (11) and “You’re fair aye, Sue [Q s,/You]...” (13-14). Bitter wit about Will’d dead son, Hamnet also occurs: e.g., “...dusty, adieu, aye in Satan think Hamnet S., or th’ Hath-way itched...”(8-9) and “Fore, eye amiss Ham’t: Bedded witch I bring forth” (2). “The Son is daily old and new” (6) may cloak a poignant personal comment.

           Anne-berating wit is typically rampant, keyed here to the pun on “wife” (1), echoed as “Make [i.e., Mate] S.” in the pun “This thou perceivest, Witch Make, stale oaf, m’ whore (...Witch S., tail of Mooress t’ wrong)...”(3). Other examples occur: e.g., “I am shamed by th’ Hat-witch aye” (2); “Odd, you Anne see” (in Q’s aduance, 8); “...Hath-way chide, County Anne S., th’ huss, doughy pain Anne S...” (Q 4-5, where containes encodes bawdy humor, suggesting “Cunt[y] Anne S.”); and “Anne, die, be Cast-away...,” a play on “Hathaway” (10). The telescoped form “You-to-y” (14)—i.e., “Ut-e-way”—links “Uterus” and “Hathaway” in a demeaning synecdochic form.

           Allusive puns include “Leafed [i.e., Imprinted] Titus you hurled. Should Luke end, too? Why? Harmony...” (1); “Of Orestes, you and I said, ‘Alien, inane [w = IN] dolt’” (6); “Bawdy Howard, a Limey ordained...”; and “bawdy whore Ptolemy ardent dost advance” (8). One pun may be about selling poetry: “Leaf’d, the wise world showed low canto: your money ever iamb shamed...” (1-2).

Sample Puns

          1) Leaf[ed] Titus you hurled, should Luke end, too? wife, whore old; W., Earl S.; S. Hall, loo-kin too; money
          1-2) cantor, moan for Amos; Amos Ham debated; lo, key, in Tower moan for aye; eying toy, harmony of O rhyme; moan ever iamb shamed
           2) Fore “I” eye, m’ famed, bitty 8 which I bring forth; W.H. eye, jabbering forth; I am shamed by th’ Hat.-witch
           2-3) For Ham. S., Ham’t, by that witch, I bring forth this; I bare inch sore that high is, thou perceivest
           3) Th’ hissed Hooper see you; you Percy used t’ hitch my aches to hell; my castle of amour is strong
           3-4) Witch, Make S., thy low Moor Shakespeare runed, he worthy of that is
           4) Howard hoisted ass t’ Hathaway aye, itched cunt, anus (Annie S.); Th’ warts (words); oft Hat.—aye, Southy, too—itched; ’tis t’ Hath-way shitty, cunty Annie S.; county anus
           4-5) Annie S., th’ huss, (cunty anus thus) do I pee in, Anne deserve(d) it day by day 5 Thus (T’ us) Dauphin (dolphin) ends your set; Annie sedes do eye
           5-6) die, bitty f---er (heifer)
           6) Of Orestes, Eunice dallying Anne told; alien window lattice; Forest; Fore eye, Southy Sun, is daily new, untold; Fon; son; fore-ass, this honey ass dallying anew, end old; Wendell
           7) These offices soft eye, Southy, willed t’ Luke; Thief; Th’ sea office is soft, aye Southy, O you wilt; Will it; sauce taste, howl, t’ loo; Howell 7-8 thou will t’ loo keep you, T.T.
           8) Butt Howard—awl mired (merd, “merdy”) and dusty; whore Ptolemy ardent dost advance; all merdy, Hindu fit advanced; Beauty, O, you hard awl, my hard end dost advance; my hard Anne
           8-9) Hindu hoisted wand, Satan thank him not for that; wan (one) seed thin t’ hanky Hamnet farted
           9) Thin th’ hank [i.e., coil, skein] Hamnet farted, witchèd oaths aye; earthy twitch hid oath fey
           8-10) awl, my hard, Anne deux [suggesting corpulence] Shakespeare’d wand seed in—thank him not for that; thank him not for that witch he doth fatten, aye fatter Annie be
           9-10) …hid ode o’ Satan; Satan eye, shitter (shudder), eye fiend, abyss t’ awe aye (aye be cast away)
         10) The knave hit Harry, one debases two; Annie B. Cast-away
         10-11) to a ewer—ass, till—is Hall
         11) itch may be anal; You, Shakespeare, ill fall; Hall, Livy see f--k virtue
         11-12) Used “till” of Hall, low, f--k, weird youth, maybe in Anne died her gross panting, mite be better wifed; land there, grove fey be
         11-13) hate may be anal and t’ Harry gross panting, my jet be better used t’ harry loose Moor
         12) my jet be bitter, wifed (whiffed); my jet (midge t’) be better versed; eye rigor of panting
         12-13) hear giraffe panting (mite, baby terse did hear)
         13) T’ Harry, Livy is more license—your ass, Harry S.; T’ Harry, lose some more life (there lives Moor lice) in one of your fairies; sorry ass; moor olive [scatological?]; Orly see, Onan
         13-14) an onus, you’re Pharisee, out o’ your bawdy ass be laughing, wan, o’ sewer sour
         14) sad, icy your sea; curve; Your “tower” bawdy, O, use, be laughing, sad, dick you raise (erase); you to your boat, I owe you subtle f---ings; Sadducee, you’re fey

Acrostic Wit

          The downward lefthand acrostic code—LFTTT FT BTTY A TY—suggests, e.g., “Leaf’d fit [i.e., ‘paged stanza’] be tidy,” “Left T.T. [i.e., Thomas Thorpe, Will’s printing agent] fit bitty at Y [i.e., crossroads],” “Lofty fit betide (...Betty eyed). Why?” and “Left fit bitty I tie.” (A “fit” is a “stanza,” here is the skinny one Will has woven together down the left side of his main text.)

          Variant readings include these: “Leaf’d T.T. fit bitty, a tie” (i.e., “Thomas Thorpe foliated and gathered a tiny stanza”; “Left t’ fit Betty, a tie [i.e., some bit of clothing]”; and “Left of ‘To be,’ tidy ‘Why?’”

          The reverse (upward) code—Y TAY TT BT FTTT FL—suggests, e.g., “Y[e] tie, T.T., bitty fit full,” and “Ye tied ‘To be’ to fit, T.T., fool!” The palindromic strings TFT and TBT encourage similar meanings in both directions. These two little letterstrings, respectively, encode “tasty” (with F = S, conventionally, since f looked like “long s” in print) and “tidy” (since B is an eyepun on 8, with its phonic value “ate”). Because T can mean “tea,” a gastronomic motif emerges in these code elements.

          The pair TT always suggests a play on breasts. Here the play links with suggestions of the terms full, tight, tasty, bit, bitty/Betty, and lift/left—maybe the left one, as opposed to, say, the right.

Proceed to Rune 84
Return to the Index of Set VI
Return to Index Page: Shakespeare’s Lost Sonnets