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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 V, Runes 57-70: Texts and Comments 
Copyright © Roy Neil Graves 2003, All Rights Reserved        

Proceed to Rune 63
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Rune 62
Sixth lines, Set V (Sonnets 57-70)

                        Rune 62

     (Sixth lines, Set V: Sonnets 57-70)

     Whilst I, my sovereign, watch the clock for you,
     Th’ imprisoned absence of your liberty,
     Ev’n of five hundredth courses of the sun,
  Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crowned
     So far from home, into my deeds to pry
     No shape so true, no truth of such account.
     And all those beauties whereof now he’s king
 8  Advantage on the kingdom of the shore
     Against the wrackful siege of battering days
     And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted;
     And steel dead, seeing of his living hue,
12 The right of sepulchers were shorn away.
     But those same tongues that give thee so thine own,
     They’re worth the greater, being wooed of time.
    Glosses: 3) (Q hundreth): five hundre[d]th courses suggests the 500th course; 5) pun: “Suffer, fair homme, who may...”; 7) he (ambig.) points back to shape, truth (in 6), and my sovereign (in 1); 8) Advantage (v.) = Struggle, Advance; 11) steel dead suggests armaments (etc.) defeated; 13) tongues may refer to truth (see 6); thee (ambig.) = the king (addressed), any reader; 13) pun: “...that give thee Southy [i.e., Southampton] anon....”

     62. I Watch the Clock

     While I watch the clock waiting for you, my king,
     not free myself, the enforced absence of your generous, wide-ranging self
     that has now lasted for more than 16 months
  4 crawls toward a consummation that will crown it
     here far away from where you are. Thus I await the intervention into my life and work
     of a paragon of form and substance
     while the many beauties that that kingly figure now commands
  8 show military superiority at the seashore of his kingdom
     over the torturous siege of daily batterings
     and over unceremonious loss of maidenly virtue.
     And—the power of weapons, armor, or prisons having lost viability against him—any chance that that vital complexion is to be seen
12 in the realm of sepulchers would seem to be cut off, thwarting death’s prerogative.
     Another upshot of your triumph, my king, is that poets intent on giving you your due (or on giving you, my readers, whatever you think you see here)
     have their statuses enhanced, since posterity will love them (or maybe think them crazy).


          If the poet/speaker in this ambiguous scenario is a prisoner (2), the friend is a sun whose awaited zenith would send rays “prying” (5) into the poet’s darkened cell—an analogue for this and other hidden texts in Q. Since the friend’s “prying” may illuminate the poet’s cell in any future day, Will’s savior/auditor might be anyone who eventually comes back to release him from captivity, as we are now doing.

        Various elements also imply the latent metaphor of Christ’s return: “Sovereign,” “King,” “Kingdom,” the suggestion of a paragon (e.g., 6), and details in the last lines. “Shore” (suggesting “rim”) is a metonymic equivalent of Earth, and Will is like a faithful writer of some Gospel. The shift in person, a typical feature in the Runes that makes them challenging to puzzle out, shows a drifting modulation from poetic apostrophe (in 1-2) to musing (in 7-12). “My deeds” (5), “such account” (6), and “giving thee…thine own” (13) all describe “writings of praise.”

        The “kingdom of the shore” motif (8) includes interwoven details about travel, time, and geography. Line 3 suggests a long journey, while “So far from home” (5) and the pun “shorn away” (12) imply distance and travel. “All…whereof now he’s king” (7) hints at a large kingdom. Elsewhere Shakespeare uses “shore” pejoratively as “filth-strewn margin” (OED), an idea echoed here in the pun “Will-sty, ms. overran [...our rune]” (1). Will’s tiny, messy runic kingdom foils the auditor’s expansive one.

           Bawdy wit includes “This lock fore you” (1)—perhaps pubic hair, a chastity belt, or any hole or cell—and “Th’ imp risen’d” (2). The whole poem can in fact be read as a phallic joke, starting with wit in 2-6 about a slowly maturing, lengthening, marauding erection. Q’s form of “such account” (6) generates the gross eyepun “f--k a cunt” because the “long s” looks like an “f.” (Pudendal “country”puns, which were Renaissance commonplaces, occur overtly in Hamlet.) Will would have imagined his words in print and was amply smart to envision the implications of the typographic forms. In certain cases the collaboration of Thomas Thorpe (or of somebody else in the printshop) was necessary to effect jot-and-tittle details of his Game.

        Subtextual “family wit” involving Judith (as “Judy”) makes the tiny play on “S., Ham[n?]et” more likely (Q code: same t [13]), especially in the context of sepulchers, death, and “gauzes” (code g oƒ his [11]). The sarcastic pun “T’ Hat. [i.e., Anne Hathaway], Judy[Q giue thee]’s Athenian, th’ heir worthy, greater being, wood [crazy] ofttime” (13-14) is congruent with other clues in Q casting Judy as “Hat.’s (limited) daughter”—with Sue as Will’s favorite. But “Th’ heir worthy, greater being, Judy [Q g woo'd] esteem” (14) is a contradictory punning directive.

        The detail “500 days” (3) feels like a more insistent personal clue. If Will in this rune alludes to Hamnet’s “advantage” in the realm of the dead (the son died ca. 8/11/1596) and laments his absence, the original text (as opposed to its possible revision nearer 1609) might be dated ca. Christmas Day 1597—congruent with the pun “white season I date” in the capital letter acrostic (see below).

        Also a personal joke is my sovereign (1), punning “my sour Anne.” The early phrasing of the poem, interpreted as an extended alphabetic/phonic code, puns, e.g., “Will Shakespeare eye, see Miss, our [see misery,...; see my sewer...; see my sour...] Annie weighty, see Hath.’s low, sick forehead hymned here, Avon depths ensue, sourly bared aye..” (code Whil st I ( mys ouer aine) wa t c hthec lo ck foryou,T h’imt hr [code: p = th] ifon’ dabs enceo fyourli bert ie, [1-2, with st, I deduce from many instances, a conventional pictographic “Shakespeare cipher” in Q, an s that seems to “hold” a spear-like t by the handle and to “shake” it]).

        The whole of Q, every snippet of text in it, can be explored similarly for gamy meanings, with fascinating but always ambiguous results, so that the question of “what Will intended” remains mostly elusive. Still, the piling up of various instances leads one to inductive conclusions.

          Though Will’s alphabetic codes, letterstring lines both horizontal and vertical, suggest both more or less to the eyes of readers than Will himself imagined, the poet’s quick and capacious mind, working in a gamelike context, was surely aware of many potentialitiess in the codes. These encodings often appear consciously crafted to make at least some witty meanings inher in them. Finding the ends of intentionality in Q’s gamy texture is, of course, an evolving challenge.

         Closing puns include “th’ air [i.e., song, poem] worried thick reader, being wood [i.e., deranged] ofttime,” with “Woo’d of Tommy” likely a private joke between Will and his printing agent Thomas Thorpe, known to be the “T.T.” of Q’s title page.

          One complex pun in 4-5 would have suited Thorpe (wittily, Will’s “editor”) and Dr. John Hall (Will’s son-in-law in Stratford and, I deduce, a principal intended auditor): “...witty being C-row [i.e., line 3, just ended], and ed.’s [i.e., the ‘editor’s’—Thorpe’s] offer, fair homme, Homme (...Home) John [= in], too, made ed.’s top [i.e., the opening lines here?] wry”; “medical” wit in 5 is concurrent: e.g., “Suffer serum, John [= in], Tommy...,” with plays on “dead” “wedded,” and “stopper.”

Sample Puns

         1) Will Shakespeare, aye my sovereign; Wiley-ass (Willy S.), Tommy is our anal watch, this loo seek for you; I see my Sue or Anne
         1-2) this low, sick forehead imprisoned; our Anne weighty see, Hat.’s low, sick, sorrowed
         2) The Empress owned a basin, sieve; Ural eye, bare t’ eye; sun, day be seen, see O [= sun] fire lie buried; absinthes offer liberty
         2-3) your labor tunes fief, Hun
         3) Eve knows Zion dear, the Source, Face of the Son; corse [i.e., corpse]; Enough, seven dread his whore’s ass
         3-4) the censor rolls, Tommy, deride you
         4) See Row L is tomed, you write your witty B-inch, C-row end; Mater, eye Tower witty; eye Theban Jack rown’d
         4-5) witty being, see row, Nate (see “rowing” 8, zeroing 8) is over fair homme humming
         5) omen: Tommy died, stop wry; W., Harry, witty being, see Rown D, Suffer; Sue’s arse roam, humming, Tommy; So far from home, into Mighty Dis to pry
         6) Gnoff happy is, odor you know to rue; In “O” shape is odd rune, O, to rue
         6-7) thief, f--k a cunt and “awl” those beauties; W., Harry, often owes [i.e., admits] he’s King; you check on Tyndale, th’ oaf bawdy is
         7) Handle thou see, bawdy ass W.H. arose, now he’s King
         7-8) A.D. 1, t’ John, the King, Doom of this Hoary Age; this whore, Hag Anne Shakespeare, the wrack
         8) on thick inch demised his whore; a jaunty king
         8-9) misty show a region of T.T; misty, show Aragon
         9) Against thorax you’ll siege, host batter in giddy ass; fool, such O’s be a tiring daze
         9-10) I sinned,…virtue…strumpeted; Ascend, Maiden
       10) eye Danver, Tower, you dally; Anne may Eden verdure widely strew, impede
       10-11) trumpet, Dan distill dead, see in gauzes living Jew; trump [trumpet] editing, deaf t’ Ely (deft Eli); Aye in demi-Eden verdure you delay fitter homme, petted and stalled, Ed
       11) fit, eye lad edifying “O”; face loo, aye, and Jew; Anne Shakespeare healed (held) Ed’s (Editor’s) inches, his live-inch hue (slaving Jew)
       11-12) see in gauzes living Judy, her I jet, O, supple see her ass (eyes, “S.”) were shorn away [at her marriage?]; There I jet of apples, hers [Eve’s] were far and away
       12) shore new eye
       12-13) eye Judy-O supple, cheer, swear if horny, “Away, butt, t’ house of fame”; Where’s “Whorin’-away” beauty whose famed “O” you inches taut give? Judy S. “O,” thine own
       13) Bawdy, thou “Sesame” tongue, stat, Judy’s odd hiney own
       13-14) that Judy Southy knew innate (in, 8), Harry W. earthy, Greater Being, wood ofttime; T’ Hat., Judy’s Athenian, t’ Harry, warty; Judy S., Athenian, th’ heir worthy; Th’ Heir Worthy, Greater Being,Wood [cf. The Rood]
       14) wood (contrast steel [11]); inch woody is Tommy; T’ Harry W., earthy gyrator baying; gray turban, Judy esteem; warty

Acrostic Wit

          The downward (visibly emphatic) acrostic codeline—WT E CS NAAAAAT BT—may encode such meanings as these: “Wit [Wight, White, Waite], he sees Nate bitty,” “…naughty 8, tee!” “Witty, seize Nate bitty (…see snot-bit),” “…I to bed,” “White sea-son eye, aye tubbed (dubbed),” “Wyatt [the English sonneteer?], see, is knighted [B=8],” “White season aye I typed [...I date..., ...eye tidy],” and “Wet season, ’88 [the Armada year].”

           NAAAAAT foils NOON in Rune 61.

          The upward codelineTB TAAAAANS CE TW—suggests, e.g., “Tidy [B=8] Anne S. see, too,” and “Tupped, Anne is Satan [VV = 5+5 = phonic 10].” “‘To be’ tens [of readers] see, too,” “Tibetans…,” “Titans…,” “Typed (Tipped, Tubbed, Tupped) Anne S. …,” “...Tennis…,” and “To be, Anne’s Set VV [10].” “Tennessee” (TAAAAAN S CE) is an especially appealingly encoded anachronism to the discoverer of the Runes, who stands always, as it were, “...silent on a peak in Darien.”

          The down/up hairpin suggests, e.g., “White seas nigh tipped tub, tense sea, too.”

Proceed to Rune 63
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