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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 VIII, Runes 99-112: Texts and Comments
Copyright © Roy Neil Graves 2003, All Rights Reserved        

             
Proceed to Rune 102
Return to the Index of Set VIII

Rune 101A,
Third lines in Set VIII (Sonnets 99-112)
Rune 101B, Fourth line in Sonnet 99
and Third lines in Sonnets 100-112

                         Rune 101A

     (Third lines, Set VIII: Sonnets 99-112)

     If not from my love’s breath, the purple pride
     Spend’st thou—thy fury—on some worthless song.
     Both truth and beauty on my love depends;
 4  That love is merchandised whose rich esteeming,
     The argument all bare, is of more worth,
     Such seems your beauty still, three winters cold.
     Since, all alike my songs and praises be,
 8  And beauty, making beautiful old rhyme,
     Can yet the lease of my true love control,
     What’s new to speak, what now to register.
     As easy might I from myself depart,
12 Gored mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear;
     That did not better for my life provide,
     For what care I, who calls me well or ill.
__________
     Glosses: 4) merchandised = openly traded; 7) my songs... contrasts with thy...song in 2; 9) lease is an eyepun on leaf (i.e., page); control is a routinely distracting pun on “cunt-roll”; 12) Gored = Cut like cloth; compare sold cheap with merchandised in 4; 13) That = “I who...” and/or “Shoddy methods” (see 11-12); 14) calls me well puns, “see Hall’s mule” and “see awls [phallic], m’ well [pudendal or anal]”; well or ill puns on “Will...” (see 11, which suggests mental illness) and on “Will, oral...”; line puns: e.g., “Foe rude, see a ruse...,” “Foe root see, a rosy awl, ass, my well oral.”



                            Rune 101B

 (Fourth line, Sonnet 99, + Third lines, Sonnets 100-112)

     Which on thy soft cheek for complexion dwells?
     Spend’st thou thy fury on some worthless song?
     Both truth and beauty on my love depends;
 4  That love is merchandised whose rich esteeming,
     The argument all bare, is of more worth,
     Such seems your beauty still, three winters cold.
     Since, all alike my songs and praises be,
 8  And beauty, making beautiful old rhyme,
     Can yet the lease of my true love control,
     What’s new to speak, what now to register.
     As easy might I from myself depart,
12 Gored mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear;
     That did not better for my life provide,
     For what care I, who calls me well or ill.
__________
     Glosses: 4) merchandised = openly traded; 7) my songs... contrasts with thy...song in 2; 9) lease is an eyepun on leaf (i.e., page); control is a routinely distracting pun on “cunt-roll”; 12) Gored = Cut like cloth; compare sold cheap with merchandised in 4; 13) That = “I who...” and/or “Shoddy methods” (see 11-12); 14) calls me well puns, “see Hall’s mule” and “see awls [phallic], m’ well [pudendal or anal]”; well or ill puns on “Will...” (see 11, which suggests mental illness) and on “Will, oral...”; line puns: e.g., “Foe rude, see a ruse...,” “Foe root see, a rosy awl, ass, my well oral.”

     101A. What Now to Register? (I)

     If you’re not reading verses inspired by my love,
     you’re expending face-flushing anger, frustration, and embarrassment on worthless poems.
     Truth and beauty find their groundings in my love,
  4 and that love is hawked openly, though its great merit, estimated
     on the basis of its naked truth, its bare essence, is too valuable for that,
     so beautiful do you seem even now, after these three cold years
     during which my lyrics praising you appear all alike
  8 as beauty, creating and refurbishing old meters,
     still asserts control over the tenure (and text) of my true love,
     determining what’s new to say, what should be entered now in the record.
     It would be just as easy to stray from these principles and practices,
12 cutting my thoughts into little pieces, selling cheap what is most precious;
     that would not be the preferable way to provide for my life,
     for what I care about, or for my reputation.


     101B. What Now to Register? (II)

     The color of your unblemished face would register your mood. What is that mood now?
     Do you waste your rage on some worthless song?
     Such questions about reality and beauty find their groundings in you, and in my love for you;
  4 that love can be hawked openly, though its great merit, estimated
     on the basis of its naked truth, its bare essence, is too valuable for that,
     so beautiful do you seem even now, after these three cold years
     during which my lyrics praising you appear all alike
  8 as beauty, creating and refurbishing old meters,
     still asserts control over the tenure (and text) of my true love,
     determining what’s new to say, what should be entered now in the record.
     It would be just as easy to stray from these principles and practices,
12 cutting my thoughts into little pieces, selling cheap what is most precious;
     that would not be the preferable way to provide for my life,
     for what I care about, or for my reputation.


Comments: 101A

         The routine paradox linking lover and beloved makes some ambiguities here functional: “my love” (1, 3, 9), e.g., means either “my beloved” or “what I feel for him.” The poem feels genuinely poignant, and the biographical clues are tantalizing, especially the emphatic “Three Winters” (6). Will’s apparent isolation and frustration at being locked into a scheme of “beautiful old rhyme” (8) that’s not yet two-thirds done allow editing 11-14 more pessimistically than I have done—that other version saying, in effect, “I’m past caring and might as well give it up.”

          Typically, the punning text foils our predisposition to detect honest melancholy in the tone.

          A loose pattern of imagery from trade dominates, with figures about fabrics and writing or “singing” also adding technical unity. The “fabric” conceits echo the antecedent reverse “rag” in “vulgar” (Rune 100A.14) and the acrostic TAT (100A.11-13), but the metaphor of warp-and-woof always provides an organic motif in Q. Terms about trade include “spend’st” and “worthless” (2); “depends” (3); “merchandised” and “riches teeming” (4); “of more worth” (5); “your beauty’s till” (6); “cents” (7); “lease” and “control” (9); “register” (10), “sold cheap… most dear” (12); “better…provide” (13); and “for what care I” (14)—tied to “provide” and “depends.”

          Figures about fabrics and clothes—allied to the “merchandise” cluster—include “purple” and the pun “knot” (1), “Gor’d” (12), “all bare” (5), “such seams” (6), “lease” (9) as “quantity of thread” (ME), “tear” (10), “fold” (12), “that dyed knot” (13), and the upward acrostic GAWCASS (suggesting “gauzes”). The pun “margin diced” (4) anticipates “gored” as “cut along the edges”—a quiet allusion to Q’s cut-and-paste game. Writing topics here include inspiration (1), songs and praises (2,7), pens (3), an argument (5), style (6), rhyme (8), leaves (9, 11), speech and writing (10), thoughts (12), and a well (14); in a “knotty,” “gored” text, these merge with the “fabric” cluster.

          Though the initial “apostrophe” to Anne in 8 may seem to signal the real lament of a sorrowful estranged husband, variant constructions can make the lines derogatory rather than “sincere.”

          Typically, end words connected by sound effects help “replace” missing rhyme: e.g., pride / provide; depends / depart / dear; register / dear; and cold / control / old rhyme.

Comments: 101B

          Though 101B opens with parallel questions while 101A opens with an assertion, either start (in the two variants of the text) leads logically into the same discussion of the friend’s “beauty and truth”—and of the need to respect that ideal and not cheapen it in spurious verses. In 101B, line 1 vaguely anticipates beauty (3) while line 2, about something false, rationalizes the term truth (3).

          The word “complexion” (101B.1) suggests flushed cheeks, anticipating “fury” (2), while the musical pun “…[the note] D wells [up]” (1) adumbrates the notion of “song” (2).


Sample Puns

101A

          1) Aye, ass, notice Rome mellow
          1-2) …notice Romulus buried, hid, help your belabored, spent fit; Eye snot from my loose breath (my love’s bared head), the purple period [the comma = a bloody nasal drip] is penned; leper I dispense, T.T. haughty; liberate ass penned

101B

          1) Witch, Auntie S., oft checks whores’ amply actioned wells (…checks sores, source); teach a kisser come-pile action dual; eye jaunty ass, hostess hacks whore’s homme, play-action
          1-2) fore-complex eye, O, nude Will S. spent fit [i.e., stanza, ejaculation] t’ Tho. Th. Why is your rune some worthless song?

101A and B

          2) Spendest thou thy fury on foam worthless, fon; S. penned fit doughty, if you ransom wordless song; this you rune: Foe immured Ulysses
          2-3) laugh, ass on jib
          3) Both t’ Ruth, Anne debuted John my loud pen; Anne, body on my loo, deepened is that loo aye
          3-5) melody pen, Dis-thought low is summer’s handy Zed, W.H. offered cheese (Jeez) t’ emend jet here
          4) W.H., O, fear itch, ass teeming
          4-5) A Ming there, Jew mantel bares
          4-6) W.H., O see rich ass teeming—the argument all bare, aye soft, more worthy f--k seems
          5) awl bare, aye soft, Moorward; her Jew-man tall bare is (buried oaf moor, warty)
          5-6) Of Moor warty, suck famous ewer, bawdy still t’ Harry W.; Hall bare, eye sophomore war, this, you see, is a mess
          6) you seize a ms. (a messier, bawdy ass); F--k seams; F--k see, Monsieur; see m’ sewer, bodies till
          6-7) the rune terse see, old ass John; winter scalds John
          7) Essential ally came; see awl, all, I came; Sin see, all alike; Sense Hall aye lick my ass; my fungus-end peer eyes
          7-8) scenty (sandy), brave ass be, and bawdy; Anne depraves bend [cf. “turn” in the line, “verse” as “a turn”]
          8) Anne, bawdy ma[t]e eye in cheap ode, eyeful o’ lead-rhyme; my kin gibbet [gallows] aye sullied (followed, sallowed, salute)
          8-9) bawdy ass, you low ladder eye, making ye heady
          9) leaf Eve might rue; T.T., Helios’s miter you love; See Annie, Ann [et], t’ hell, Eve, O-seam ye’d rule avec Anne t’ roll; my true love, cunt-roll
        10) John [W=IN] had sinew tough; pig-wheat know; ache, W.H., aye, t’ know Tower gift
        10-11) to riches tear, ass; speak what an otter (oder, odor) gave t’ erase; W.H. eye, tease anew, tough pique, W.H., attend, O wit, whore, jester, assy; teary seas eye, mighty, of Rome; heresy Semite aye affirms
        11) a maid eye from my cell (missal) sad; Rome missal (missile) see depart; a Semite eye, of Rome
        11-12) a femme eye, jetty form, my cell, seedy part, jeered (cheered) m’ Annie
        12) Gored m’ Annie (our demon) owned haughty ass, sold cheap, W.H., a tease most dear; Guard Minoan thought, Cecil
        12-13) a phew!—Hat. is moist ear that died
        12-14) ass, fool, Dicky, eye putas moist, dirty, hated node, bitter, sore, malicy, proud—for what?
        13) that dyed knot bitter, fore, m’ Y [crotch], lice, peer eyed (pirouette); Hat. dyed node, bitter formula-ass “prow” eyed
        13-14) I devour W.H. aye, tease Harry; for my leaf, peer, Ovid soared, see, Harry, W.H., O callous, mew [i.e., pen up] hell, our ill; eye vapor, Ovid, ever white, sere
        14) Sword carries Hall, as mule, oar ill; Forehead see, a ruse; Forehead, zeros eye; Fore, W.H. at sea arose; W.H. o’ Calais is mule oral; see a reckless (recluse) mule oral; ass, mew laurel; see a ruse, Hall, a similar ill; see Allah’s mew, hell; carouse, Hall; curious Hall is; hawk wholesome, well or ill


Acrostic Wit

101A

          The downward acrostic codeline—I S B TTS S A CWAG TF—suggests such decodings as these samples: “Aye, ass be T.T.’s ass, eye sewage tough,” “Aye, ass be T.T.’s ass assuaged,” “Aye ass bitty is sewage-tough,” “Is Betty’s ass assuaged if…?” and “I spit ‘S’s,” a cue, egg tough [to break].”

          The upward (reverse) codeline—FT GAWC ASSTTBSI—houses such potential meanings as, e.g., “…if it causes tidy Bessie?” “…fit causes Saint [Shakespeare] t’ be assy?” “Fit Jew, see Ass T.T. busy,” “Fit i.e., Stanza] goes, ‘Ass T.T. be ass aye,” “Fit gauzes T.T. busy,” and “Ovid gawks, Shakespeare ‘Tibi’s’ eye.” The final reading can be paraphrased, “Ovid is impressed with the poet’s Latin.” As usual, T.T. here suggests Thomas Thorpe, Will’ collaborating printing agent, the signer of Q’s perversely vague dedication.

          Some readings here incorporate ST as st, the conventional family name cipher that I have deduced as operating in Q’s coterie wit: An s holds a spear-like t, as if by the handle, and “shakes” it.

101B

          The downward codeline—WS B TTS SAC WAG TF—opens with the poet’s initials, suggesting, e.g., “W.S. be T.T.’s sick wag tough,” “…sack, wage, tiff [i.e., small liquor],” and “Wise Betty is, sage….”

          The upward (reverse) codeline—FTGAWCASSTTBSW—may be read to mean, e.g., “Fit [i.e., stanza] goes, ’Aye is Shakespeare to be so’,” “Fit ghost, Shakespeare to be so,” and “Fit ghost, aye, is Saint-to-be, Sue.”

          The up/down hairpin of this variant codeline suggests, “Fit goes, ’Aye is Shakespeare to be so wise, be T.T., ass: Sage wag tiff [i.e., the sage may deck out, attire the wag].” Here the notion may be that Will is supporting the “wag” Thorpe with his “wise” efforts as poet.

             
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