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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 113
Proceed to the Index of Set IX
Return to the Index of Set VIII

Rune 112A,
First lines in Set VIII (Sonnets 99-112)
Rune 112B, Fifteenth line in Sonnet 99
and Fourteenth lines in Sonnets 100-112

                          Rune 112A

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

     More flowers I noted, yet I none could see;
     So thou prevent’st his scythe and crookèd knife,
     To make him seem long hence, as he shows now.
 4  Because I would not dull you with my song,
     Your own glass shows you, when you look in it,
     Ere you were born was beauty’s summer dead,
     Which (three till now) never kept seat in one!
 8  Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise?
     When tyrants’ crests and tombs of brass are spent,
     Where time and outward form would show it dead,
     Save thou my rose! In it thou art my all,
12 Even to thy pure and most, most loving breast;
     Even that, your pity, is enough to cure me
     That all the world (besides me) thinks, “Y’are dead.”
__________
     Glosses: 1) More flowers puns on “Moor flow-ers,” i.e., flowing, inky lines, etc., with phallic innuendo; 2) his = time’s (implied by the metaphor); 3) him = time (punning on hymn, Ham[net]), with phallic innuendo in long; 4) dull echoes knife in 2; 7) three: i.e., three summer months; kept seat = resided; 7-8) seat in one / Have eyes... puns, e.g., “Satan, one-half aye is to wander...”; 8) the line, alternately, is a directive to the reader; 11) rose = “my rows” of text, these verses—echoing flowers in 1 and punning on “ruse”; Save thou my rose puns on “Southam[pton]” and “Wriothes[ley]”( roughly pron. “Rose-ley”), names of Will’s only known patron, Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton; 14) me thinks y’ are dead puns, “meta-ink sordid,” etc., with the endword dead reiterating those in 6, 10.


                          Rune 112B

(Fifteenth line, Sonnet 99, + 14th lines, Sonnets 100-112)

     But sweet or color, it had stol’n from thee,
     So thou prevent’st his scythe and crookèd knife
     To make him seem long hence, as he shows now.
 4  Because I would not dull you with my song,
     Your own glass shows you, when you look in it,
     Ere you were born was beauty’s summer dead,
     Which (three till now) never kept seat in one!
 8  Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise?
     When tyrants’ crests and tombs of brass are spent,
     Where time and outward form would show it dead,
     Save thou my rose! In it thou art my all,
12 Even to thy pure and most, most loving breast;
     Even that, your pity, is enough to cure me
     That all the world (besides me) thinks, “Y’are dead.”
__________
     Glosses: 1) But = Mere; it had stol’n from = had it left; 2) his = time’s [implied by the metaphor]; 3) his = time’s (implied by the metaphor); 3) him = time (punning on hymn, Ham[net]), with phallic innuendo in long; 4) dull echoes knife in 2; 7) three: i.e., three summer months; kept seat = resided; 7-8) seat in one / Have eyes... puns, e.g., “Satan, one-half aye is to wander...”; 8) the line, alternately, is a directive to the reader; 11) rose = “my rows” of text, these verses—echoing flowers in 1 and punning on “ruse”; Save thou my rose puns on “Southam[pton]” and “Wriothes[ley]”( roughly pron. “Rose-ley”), names of Will’s only known patron, Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton; 14) me thinks y’ are dead puns, “meta-ink sordid,” etc., with the endword dead reiterating those in 6, 10.


     112A. Save Thou My Rows I Knit!

     I went on writing inky, flowing lines about flowers, with no real ones in view;
     thus you, my friend, act as a stay against time—who cuts everything down—
     by making our mutable condition seem far away, as it does now momentarily.
  4 Since I don’t want my poems to bore you, or depict you as less bright or sharp than you are,
     let your own mirror show you, when you look in it,
     that summer’s beauty was dead until you were born,
     a season whose three separate months never before stopped to reside at the same place.
  8 Must eyes be amazed, but tongue-tied, in the face of such beauty?
     When tyrants’ trappings—their wavelike peaks of power, their brass tombs—are things past
     and when time has forgotten it, and all outward appearances of it suggest that it has died,
     save my Rose, my friend—this flower I write of, my work, these rows, this ruse. In these rows you are my everything,
12 up to and including even your pure, supremely affectionate heart.
     That very thing, your solicitous attention, is enough to keep me alive—
     I whom all the world (except me) presumes dead.


     112B. Save Thou My Rose

     Perhaps, my friend, if you appear to lack sweetness or color, as if already dead, without losing other physical attributes of the living,
     that just acts as a stay against time—who harvests everything at summer’s end with his sharpened scythe—
     by making our mutable condition seem far away, as it does now momentarily.
  4 Since I don’t want my poems to bore you, or depict you as less bright or sharp than you are,
     let your own mirror show you, when you look in it,
     that summer’s beauty was dead until you were born,
     a season whose three separate months never before stopped to reside at the same place.
  8 Must eyes be amazed, but tongue-tied, in the face of such beauty?
     When tyrants’ trappings—their wavelike peaks of power, their brass tombs—are things past
     and when time has forgotten it, and all outward appearances of it suggest that it has died,
     save my Rose, my friend—this flower I write of, my work, these rows, this ruse. In these rows you are my everything,
12 up to and including even your pure, supremely affectionate heart.
     That very thing, your solicitous attention, is enough to keep me alive—
     I whom all the world (except me) presumes dead.



Comments: 112A

         The conceit is that Will’s verse is a “flower” (1) or “rose” (11) that is “saved” (2)—or is to be saved (11)—by the friend’s summer-like, sun-like character. Integral are plays on 1) “flow-er” as flowing inkline (but note the eyepun “slur”) and on 2) the Rose (cf., e.g., Paradiso) as an emblem of perfect beauty.

          Connected figures are about time and the muse’s curative beauty and affection. Images of summer, flowers, time, and death build an implicit scenario: The friend’s beauty is like a summer sun which, by standing still, overcomes its foes, time and death, so that flowers (and poets) bloom eternally. By “noting” the flowers, Will becomes their creator and thus can say “my Rose.” “Flowers” (1), “beauty’s summer” (6), and “rose” (11) are overt; “time” is implied in 2 and overt in 10; “dead” occurs thrice as an endword (6, 10, 14), and “death” is implicit in 2 and 9. Time’s “reaping” (see 2) implies the end of summer; “I would not dull you” (4) suggests reaping while implying that the muse “shines”; and “Have eyes to wonder” (8) limns the gesture of looking at a bright sun. “Beauty’s summer” was “three till now” (7) because summer comprises three months—though any such “three” business is always riddlic and suggestive.

           The terminal pun “year dead” (14) echoes the idea of harvest (2); and both “pitty” (13) and “till” (7) suggest gardens—with “rows,” or “seam[s] long” (3).

           Puns that link “gardens” with “writing” include “crooked knife” (2); “beauty’s summer” as “numbers man” (6); and “time” as “meter.”

           One cluster of imagery denigrates Will’s capacities: The poet whom “none could see” (1) “sings” badly (4), “lacks tongue to praise” (8), was dead before the friend was born (6), needs curing (13), and looks dead (14).

           “Tilling” wit and many puns (see below) invite bawdy readings.

Comments: 112B

          This opener damns with faint insult—“You lost sweetness and went ashen”—even as it moves toward praising the auditor’s beauty; thus an implicit joke about the friend as corpse begins in 112B.l (see 10, 14, and, ironically, 5-6). So does phallic innuendo—as in “But sweeter-color ‘I’ that’s too long, roamed [rheumed] he”—that’s echoed in scythe, knife (2), long (3), dull (4), “wand” (pun 7), “I’s,” “jack” (puns 8), crests (9), and “awl” (pun 11, 14).

          Other berating humor in 112B.l includes puns such as “Butt (Beauty, Bawdy), sweet or choler’d, it had stol’n from thee,” “Butt, sweeter-colored…,” and “Butt, Swede [i.e., pale] or colored [i.e., neger, Moor]….” The context makes us think that “colored” may mean “having a skin other than white” (OED 1611).

           With color, line 1 lays groundwork for my rose (12), a standard conceit for someone beloved and beautiful; “my rows,” always concurrent in Q, means “these my verses” and plays on “mirrors” (see 5) and “hymn arose,” “hymn, a Rose.” The concern of 112B.1 with the lost features of something beautiful objectifies the blankness of the hidden texts; indeed the whole poem address “rows” that need rescuing (11), verses that “lack tongues to praise” (8).


Sample Puns

112A

          1) Morris (Morse) lours in ode, editing, wan soul deaf is; Moor flow-ers [dark lines]; slurs; dieting uncle see; My whores, lower ass […“s”—not caps]; ye et “I,” nun could see; in one-C [IC = 99] old; ye “canonical” (t=c) see; ye tenants old see
           1-2) canonical, see-sawed Hooper when his tush is eaten; Moor, slow were synod editing one code (wan coat) of Esau; see Halsey’s oath appear in fit’s seething croak; cold, see Sue; sight handy surrogate knife (knave)

112B

          1-3) Bawdy Swede, our “culler,” eye: Th. adds to lean form this O: Thorpe runes, this is eyed, hand crooked nighs to make hymn seem long. Hence, ass, he shows an O. (...he insists, “O-wise,” an O...). See “nice Tommy came” below in 2-3.

112A and 112B


          2) Shakespeare’s scythe [suggesting “…spear”], Anne-crooked knife
          2-3) nice Tommy came, female engine sees his hose snow
          3) …female “O” inching, see, ass he shows now; gin; eye Scheisse house (Jesus); sassy foison owe; me Longinus eases—how?
          3-4) Nobis see O soil; foe, snub coffee, wood nodul you’d hymn; wooden idol; snubby Cecil wooed an oat
          4) Jew old noted; I would not dilute hymn (delude him); Bess aye you see
          4-5) W.H., you loo-kin (Luke, John) eyed
          5) You rune-jellies show Sue, John [= w = IN], W., Hen; foe issue, W.H. annul; W.H. knew Luke innate; glass shows you, W.H., Nile
          4-6) my fon gerund-jellies show a swan (Aswan), you look in it, ere you weary, be horny
          5-6) eye knight, rare Borneo’s bawdiest homme
          6) Harry, you were borne away; our news be odious; homme, Mardi add; merdy Ed
          6-7) homme read, Adieu; Borneo’s bawdy asses you murdered, W.H.
          7) W.H. aye chattered ill; nun you recapped, Satan wan; in ear, keep the feet; the riddle know never
          7-8) See it, Aenon, heavy stone (Avestan); Navy, astound (eye, stoned)
          8) a sick town
          8-9) herb, you’d Jack-tongue stop raving; but Jack, town guest tup her aye: Few enter Auntie’s crafty ass, Anne did hommes piss off; praise windy rants, crusty, sane tomes o’ sober Asser, ass-penned
          9) W.H., knight your Auntie S.; soft bracer (brazier) I’ve penned
          9-10) rave, pee in Tower, Tommy
        10) W.H., a ready, mean, doughty war disarm—wood feud dead; Anne, doubt word-form, J. Hall’d show it dead
        10-11) fetid Southy, owe mirrors innate; few eyed a De Soto humorous
        11) Southy, O, you, my Rose, aye knight, thou art my all; Save thou my rows I knit (innate), though hard, my awl
        11-12) th’ O mirrors in it Howard, Milan, too; Saw thou, morose Johnny, T.T., whore—Tommy-awl, even, toothy, pure and moist; arty, my Hall even taught Hyperion dim
        12) damn host moist, low inch burst; Anne dim, oft mufti-loving, barefoot
        12-13) Ewe into type—your randy, muffed, moist, loving, bare-assed ewe ended your piety; Shakespeare you knighted; lowing brief tune t’ Hat., Europe eyed East
        13) your “pit,” ’tis enough to cure me; see, you rhyme, eee! [the endword dead occurs thrice]; You in the Tower piteous gnawed ochre meat (ogre mete), had all the world beside (some think, asserted)
        13-14) pieties enough took your meat; Enoch took your meated awl to ewe; You in the Tower pitty is enough to see you’re omitted; see you’re meat, Hat., all the world beef eyed, some then kiss your reed odd; you ream that awl to your lad; ’tis enough, Doc, you remedied Hall
        14) you hurled beast ideas, mete Inca asserted; ideas meaty; T’ adult, you whore-lad be; Hat., Hall, the world, Bess, I decimate, Hen., kiss your dead; sum th’ ink’s yard, Ed.; world [with pittie (13)] suggests The Globe; hurled be fetus meaty, inky, sordid


Acrostic Wit

112A

          The downward codeline—MST B YEW HWW SEE T—encodes such possibilities as these readings: “Misty beau (bow) you sight, (use it),” “Musty 8 [=B], use it!” “Ms. t’ buy, use it!” “Mist by [i.e., when things clear up], you, H.W., W.H. eat,” “Misty be yew, you see it (hue seedy),” “Misty be Yahweh W.S. et,” “Master be ewe H.W., W.S. eat,” “Misty be you, Hugh seedy,” “Misty beau you seed,” “Missed by you, H.W. W.S. et,” and “Misty, buy you H.W./W.S. 8 [the set no.].”

          The upward codeTEES WWHWEY B TS M—may be read to mean, e.g., “Tease we (weigh,) bitty sum,” “Tease we Betty’s homme,” “’Tis webbed S.-hymn,” “’Tis white (Waite, wighty, Wyatt) t’ some (sum) [B=8],” “Tea sweet t’ some,” “T., Swede (sweet), t’ sum (’tis homme, tease ’im),” “Tee! Sue you eye, Betty’s m[other?] (…bitty sum),” “T’ Esau, bitty sum,” “Tee! [Pur]sue you aye bitty [Betty] ass, homme.”

          The hairpin can be read “Mist be usèd, a swipe [device for raising water], ’tis homme,” “Misty bee [or B, the alternate texts in Set VIII] used, a swipe to some,” “Ms. ‘To be’ you see, T.T., ass wiped some,” and “Ms. to be used: Titty, [T.T.] ass wiped some.”

112B

          Here is another instance where the B textual variant opens with the letter B. The downward emphatic codeline—BST B YE WH W WS EET suggests, e.g., “Beast be ye, W.H., VV [pictographic fangs] W.S. eat [with phallic innuendo],” “Beast be you who W.S. eat (ate),” “Beset by W.H. fangs [VVVV], ass eat,” “Be Shakespeare by W.H.—why is it?” “Best buy (Beast by…) you, use it!” “Beast abused,” “Bess—tubby, wise—eat,” “Bess, tubby—why was it?”

           The “best” here may be “these poems,” and “tubby Bess” may be the chubby granddaughter.

          The upward codeline in the B variant—TEES WWHWEY BT S B—suggests “Tease we. Eye B. ’Tis B!” and ...A/B tease be,” thus playing on the anomalous A/B dichotomy in Set VIII. Other readings of this letterstring codeline, e.g., include these: “’Tis Sue you aye bed, sup,” “’Tis whey bit, sup,” and “’Tis whey, Betty [Bett], sup.”

           One down/up hairpin reading can be heard as BS  T  BYE  WHWWS  EETTEES  WWHWEY  BT  SB, suggesting, e.g., “Bess—tubby, wise—eats whey bits up” and “Bess, to be wise, eats whey bits up,” “…eats whey, Betty-sup”). One may hear the poet’s grandfatherly voice here, using the indicative rather than the imperative in giving gentle advice: “Bess, eat your breakfast to grow up big and smart.”

             
Proceed to Rune 113
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