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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 66
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Rune 65
Ninth lines, Set V (Sonnets 57-70)

                         Rune 65

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

     Nor dare I question with my jealous thought:
     Be where you list, your charter is so strong
     That I might see what the old world could say.
 4  Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth.
     O, know thy love, though much, is not so great
     But when my glass shows me myself indeed.
     For such a time do I now fortify
 8  When I have seen such interchange of state.
     O, fearful meditation! Where a lack
     And art made tongue tied by authority,
     Why should he live? Now nature bankrupt is,
12 In him those holy antique hours are seen.
     They look into the beauty of thy mind;
     Thou hast passed by the ambush of young days.
     Glosses: 2) list = choose; your charter = our pact, your claim on me; 3) see = confront and accept; old world suggests The Globe; 4) transfix = cut through; flourish = rhet. or pen embellishment; 10) made tongue tied... = have made a tongue to be mute (as in the Runes); 11) he = that tongue (i.e., the poet); bankrupt (Q banckrout) = stript bare; 12) him = the poet (pun: hymn); holy antique hours puns, “wholly antic whores”; 14) Thou = The poet, addressing his own image.

      65. Such Interchange of State

     I should never be jealous nor insecure:
     Wherever you choose to be, our bond is so strong
     that I could stand to hear anything this old world might say.
  4 Time (and also the meter here) cuts through the undue emphasis placed on youth.
     Oh, be assured that our love, though strong, is strongest
     when I face my aging self squarely in the mirror.
     Right now I fortify myself against such a time
  8 when I witness the reversed condition that time brings with age (and also when I contemplate the perversely interlocked condition of these texts).
     Oh, what a terrible thought! Where loss
     and cosmetics (or artful shrewdness, in the case of these texts) combine to authorize speechlessness,
     why should one’s voice go on? Now that nature lacks resources, is stript bare,
12 one sees in that voice times like those of old—an age worth revering.
     Such times look into the beauty of your mind;
     you, poet, have evaded the ambush of youth.


          Youth and age give this poem about mutability its thematic foils. “Old world” (3), which seems pejorative, is transmuted in “holy antique [wholly antic] hours” (12). Generally, aging is an “interchange of state” (8) that brings “a lack” no artful makeup can cover (6-10), proving “nature banckrout” (11). But the closing turn disparages youth as something to be “cut through” (4), an “ambush” to be escaped (14). “My glass” (6)—a mirror, a timepiece—“measures” age.

          Figures about documents, economic settlements, diplomacy, sailing, and fighting exist in loose alignment. “Charter” (4) suggests a document of ownership or agreement, and “flourish” (4) effectively describes a fancy “John Hancock” (OED 1652). “Transfixing” might be done with a pointed pen, literally jabbing through the writing material. Four or five variant conceits describe Will’s own “strong charter,” his poems: “Tied by authority” (10) puns about a signed, beribboned document; “interchange of state” (8) hints that the “charter” is some transfer or treaty; “nature bankrupt” (11) suggests something financial; “holy antique hours” (12) suggests a pious diary; and “fearful meditation” (9) offers a further epithet. “Interchange of state” (8) may allude to the royal transition of 1603, while “art made tongue-tied by authority” (9) explains a reason for the Runes (and otherwise for Will’s coyness): Neither Church nor State would tolerate candor.

          Such diction as “transfix,” “flourish” (4), “fortify” (7), and “ambush” (14) suggests military skirmishes. “List” (2), a written compilation, also jokes about a tilting ship, with “charter”—a pun on “map-maker,” i.e., Will—and puns on “sea” (3) sketching an ocean-going diplomat/adventurer, perhaps with a “[spy]glass” (6) of his own. “Be anchor out” (11) is a latent pun in Q’s banckrout, while “tide by” (10) and “bank route” (a route close to land) fit the cluster of nautical imagery.

          Smaller plays that embellish the text include “the old whirl’s [cf. ‘round’s’] old sigh” (3) and “theme-bush” (14)—an epithet for the flourishing Runes. The pun “Time doth transfix the flourish set on y’ oath” (4) translates, “In time the seal will be cut through, and secrecy will stop thriving.”

Sample Puns

          1) In order (ordure); Know art, a rack, you Shakespeare own; nude image, aye lusty
          1-2) Haughty Bier, Yule, Easter see; Southy, you list, your sea-heart errs, foe strong 2 arteries sufficed rune; W.H., Ariel is terse, harder
          3) Th’ timid Sue hateth Old World dick, old as I; That “I” made sooted hole dour, ladies old (Lady Isolde); T’ Hat-I-may jets he, John
          3-4) the Old World cold defied I, Mede o’ th’ terrains fixed; if item doughty tear Anne’s fixed, heavy “O,” raves Anne [et] on youth; at the Old World [suggesting The Globe], cold fate I mete (meet)
          4) whorish is Eton youth ; this lore I scheissed on you
          4-5) Timed [metered], oathèd rune affixed a slur: I, Shakespeare, ass et on youth—O, naughty, loaved, huge mucky ass, an O or ass ogre ate
          5) O naughty, laud Hugh Massey, ass not so great; gummy, huge, “humusy” snot so great
          5-6) synod-f--ker ate butt; Great Butt W., Hen., my glass shows me
          6) my cell, scene dead; W.H., enemy [spy]glass shows me; laugh if Hugh is m’ Massey elf indeed (hell-fiend dead)
          6-7) my missal ascended for Sue, shitty maid; Butt, W.H., in mickle ass, if you a seamy miss’ll see (I needed four), f--k; Indeed, for f--k, eye Tommy, duennas, or tease aye W.H. in half-seen f--k
          7) eye m’ Edo anus, oar t’ sea; I’d eye meadow I never design; Owen’s whore tease aye; item do I now fart, I sigh (Isaiah)
          8) W., Hen., I have seen f--k enter, changes as t’ 8 (hate)
          8-9) W.H., a knave (aye naive), is in Esau’s hinters, inches fit Ida’s airy ass; f--k John, terse hangs fit 8, “O’s earful,” meated 8 I own; state offers you limited aid, I honor a lack (eye “honer” I jack)
          8-10) oft a tougher solemnity tied John, W.H., earl a second hard made         
          9) of “ear” evil, maid I taught (eye taut); edit “Eden” (eaten)
          9-10) eye “O” neural, aching, dirty, my dead, hung, tidy body; all assy, kindred maiden jetted by; O, Sir, full, meated “I” shun; W., Harry, a Jack entered, mated unguided by authority; John, whirl a second, our Tommy (tummy) aid
        10) tidy, buy Arthur, eye, too, his hole (aye, too, hiss Hall)
        10-11) Anne, dirty maid tongue-tied by arthritis; tongue-tied by arthritis, Hall dallying, owned your pain, sicker, how you die, ass
        11) Why, foe, you Lady Livy know; Whistle, delving, own odd herb and seek rooty sin; Wafel
        11-12) Wise old (Weasled) Helen own, a Tower pink (at our bank), Herod’s aye named, whose holy antique bowers are seen; Nate you rip, anchor, out aye, is in him; Isaiah in hymn thou see, holy, antique whore
        12) I named Ophelia antic whore; I named Ophelia Anne t’ eager Saracen; feel ye Anne, decorous, arsy Annie
        12-13) In Hamnet, whose holy, antique hours arise, end; antic whore’s our fiend; antique heresy arising; decorous heresy Annie’d aye look into, the bawdy o’ Southy’d “Amen”
        13) Eye Luke I and II, the bawdy o’ Southy amend; They’ll hook John, toothy bawdy, oft him end; hymn end; loo-kin taught he, bawdy oft; the Beauty o’ Fatima end
        13-14) Th’ halo can to Tybalt you fit, high-minded; the beau, tasty men did have t’ pass tepid hymn bouffe, sighing Dies
        14) Th’ “O” has to paste bitty iambs (hymns) of you in, Judy S.; Thou has past by, tempus; theme: be you Faustian, die, ass; heavy “O” you inched, ass

Acrostic Wit

          The downward codeline—NB TT O B FWOAWITT [with B=8, F=S]—suggests, e.g., “N.B., Thomas Thorpe, a white Swede,” “Knight Tight-ass (Titus), Woe eye witty,” “N.B. t’ tup Swede,” “Innate to wight is woe, oddity,” “Knight awaits wight,” “N.B., Tidy ‘O” be fwawed [tongue-tied: ‘fraud,’ ‘flawed’],” and “Anne Betty awaits woe, aye weighty.”

         The upward code TTI WAOW F BOT T BN—can be read, e.g., “Tidy [pun: Tide-y] wave, boat be in,” “T.T. (Titty) you’ve Body (bawdy) eaten,” “Tight I weave, bawdy (body) tighten,” “Titty I wave, Bawdy Titan,” “T.T., you eye oasis, bawdy Eden,” “T. twice be odd bane,” “T. twice bought Eden.”

         The down/up hairpin suggests, e.g., “In ’88 feud, T.T. uses boat t’ Eden,” a possible reference to the Armada event.

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