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March 2017

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Those lips that Love's own hand did make, / Breathed forth the sound that said, 'I hate'--

volterraread asked, here--

I don't suppose there's the remotest chance that the Dark Lady is Anne H.? (not that I've read the sonnets in an age, aside from what you've posted!)

And what I wrote got too long for the comment field. Um. So here it is.



Considering that Shakespeare talks specifically about violating his marital vows with her, not so much.

However, comma, the fact of the matter is that the sonnets could very well be a novel, of sorts. Except for a couple of things.

As an aside, the author of the Guardian article doesn't mention the other characters who wander through the Sonnets--the Rival Poet, for example, who could be any number of people (Marlowe? Jonson? Chapman? Nashe?) or a combination of several of them.

I'm breaking with consensus when I say that I rather think that the person to whom the first seventeen sonnets are addressed (The Young Man Of Good Fortune In Want Of A Wife, if you will... er... if you like...) is NOT the Fair Young Man of the later sonnets. The first seventeen, frankly, read to me like commissioned work, a series of articulate arguments to a stranger.

Eighteen and up, though.... *whew* (mops brow.)

Annie does make one appearance in the sonnets, other than as the Wronged Wife, offstage and only mentioned in passing as the source of guilt.



She's the subject of Sonnet 145:


Those lips that Love's own hand did make,
Breathed forth the sound that said 'I hate',
To me that languished for her sake:
But when she saw my woeful state,
Straight in her heart did mercy come,
Chiding that tongue that ever sweet
Was used in giving gentle doom;
And taught it thus anew to greet;
'I hate' she altered with an end,
That followed it as gentle day,
Doth follow night, who like a fiend
From heaven to hell is flown away.
'I hate', from hate away she threw,
And saved my life, saying 'not you'.

He's punning on his wife's maiden name, there. "Hate away," "Hathaway"

This sonnet is largely ignored, and there's a cottage industry in discrediting it (It's juvenilia, it's not really Will, it can't be a love poem he wrote when he was 18 because it relies on Astrophel and Stella, which wasn't published yet--)

However, comma, the sonnets were published in Shakespeare's lifetime; the idea that it was the work of someone else somehow interpolated doesn't hold water. He bloody well put it in there, and when he did, he put it at the end of the sequence, rather than the beginning.

I suspect because it's a tender love poem that doesn't fit that manufactured idea of Anne Hathaway as the sneaky older woman who entrapped a naive young man into marriage through the time-honored expedient of getting herself knocked up. (The eldest daughter was born a bit close to the marriage, as they say, and the marriage was a bit, er, hasty. And there's the issue of the, er, will, in which she's notoriously given the second-best bed and that's taken of evidence as a slam, a cruel reminder of Will's philandering... which ignores the fact that there was such a thing as a widow's portion, and more, that the will assigns everything not otherwise enumerated to elder daughter Susanna and her husband... who apparently, if the burial records are anything to go on, took very good care of Annie. Anyway. And dude, that bed could be an heirloom, it could be the marriage bed, it could be one inherited from Anne's family... I think the boys historically have just wanted Will to have a lousy marriage so they can have him to themselves. But. Hobby Horse. I digress. *Stuffs feminist diatribe back in box*)

Anyway, 18 was very early for an Elizabethan man to marry. Late twenties was far more common.

The superficial context of this sonnet is pretty obvious--that Will courted her, and she put him off as graciously as possible for rather some time, and he eventually won her. Chiding that tongue that ever sweet / Was used in giving gentle doom;

However, there are those who prefer their Will to have been fleeing an abusive marriage while he was philandering his way around London, and so they make Annie a bit of a termagant and a predator.

What interests me about this sonnet in particular, however, is that we can see its relevance to a real-life situation. Which, um, kind of supports the idea that the sonnets are a True Life Story, OMG.

And I think there's another interpretation, which I haven't seen elsewhere, so may be unique to me. And which does dispense with most of the objections.

I think that this sonnet, especially given its placement near the end of the sequence, can be read as the acknowledgment of a reconciliation. He did go back to her at the end of his life, and I dunno about you, but if my husband came home to admit he'd been catting around with various young men and women in London, I might be moved to swear I hated him, too. And then, under the right circumstances, I might also be moved to take it back.

And if I were a grateful husband, I might under those circumstances be moved to make a note of that forgiveness. Which might include something to the effect of reworking an old poem into a new form.

This poem stands out among the others. The meter is different. It's intentionally made to stand out, and not stuck at the beginning as one might expect of a poem that doesn't really belong in the cycle, but is getting published there anyway because writers are greedy and we want all our words read, even the early ones. (Which is my theory on the first 17, anyway.)

There's all this numerology stuff associated with the Sonnets, too, which I don't even pretend to understand. But, looking at this as a writer rather than a critic, this poem is serving a structural purpose in the narrative. And I think it's foolish to pretend it's not doing that.



in other news, truepenny is smart about worlbuilding. And I don't just say that because she flatters me.

Comments

*g* Dude, it's there because it serves a purpose in the story! I mean, really.
As one who's been following your reviews of recent biographies, I ask with some trepidation, Have you read Mark Anderson's Shakespeare by Another Name?
...Actually, funny story. The initial inspiration for The Stratford Man came from a christmas party conversation with a co-worker of my hisband's, a staunch (dare I say frothing) Oxfordian who also happens to be a high school English teacher. I thought it was intriguing, and it gave me an idea for an Elizabethan conspiracy novel, and started reading.

So I went into the authorship question without a horse in the race.

After some pretty extensive research, which involved reading all of Oxford's surviving poetry (and I deserve a purple heart for that), I gotta say... No. Not a chance in Hell. As near as I can tell, the Oxfordian position grows out of some misguided desire to claim that one of the great English poets couldn't have come from upper-middle-class roots, but must have perforce been of the nobility.

(Nevermind working-class boys like Marlowe, Keats, and Sam Clemens who somehow made good.)

I've read the Oxfordian arguments, and they're silly.

They did give me the title for the book, though, and so I'm rather grateful to them for that. I would reccomend the Nelson book on de Vere, Monstrous Adversary, which is a painstakingly well-researched and well-documented deconstruction of a very unpleasant man.
Oh, a Ben Jonson. No university education there. Stepson of a bricklayer, former professional soldier. Massive inferiority complex manifesting as a need to run down everybody else around him, but yanno, he could write....

Died ugly, though. Poor Ben.
The worst thing that ever happened to the Oxfordian argument was the snide partisanship that led some chuckleheads to suggest a common fellow couldn't be a great poet. (The second worst thing was that its first proponent was named Looney, which made for some silly "arguments" against de Vere.) Fortunately, Anderson doesn't make that mistake, and perhaps you'd find his book more interesting than some of the others. I'm enjoying the Oxfordian arguments along with the orthodox biographies, but I've yet to do more than dabble with the darker horse candidates.

As for de Vere's being a very nasty piece of work, I find that one of the more compelling arguments in his favor, considered in context of the plays and his life. Remember, his surviving poetry is essentially juvenalia, and a writer improves in 30 years.

While Marlowe's early death is also very sad, it's Keats' that kills me. And Shelly! Have you ever read The Cenci? I'd like to have seen what plays he could have written decades later.

While he's more prone to sarcasm, in Alias Shakespeare, Joseph Sobran makes compelling arguments for de Vere, especially about the use of specific legal metaphors and phrases that appear in the sonnets, the plays, and in de Vere's letters. I'm dying to check out Hank Whittemore's The Monument: Shake-speare's Sonnets by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, but Will in the World is probably next on my list. I also must track down a copy of A Dead Man in Deptford.

I bet flashing back on your LJ would answer the question, but do you recommend any of the Marlovian arguments?

While I agree that on the surface some of the weak arguments for de Vere are silly, after years of devout Stratfordianism, I betrayed the faith after reading the Sobran and the Anderson. I don't think a man like Will Shakspere was incapable of writing great poetry by dint of his upbringing; I just no longer believe he was the guy.

While I've since abandoned the notion, at least for years to come, a friend turned me on to your LJ because I was thinking of beginning a fantasy spy novel with, "Marlowe. Kit Marlowe." Instead, I will devour The Stratford Man as soon as I lay hands on it.
You might enjoy The Cenci even more than Prometheus. I found it more human, humane, dark, and even Shakespearean. It made me think that, had he lived and stepped down a little farther from his own pedestal, Shelley could have been the other Bard.
I have absolutely no interest in that book, or frankly (any more) in the so-called authorship question. I've read the arguments--and had enough discussions with various Oxfordians that I really don't need to read any more, thanks. That's not so much the evidence of a closed mind as the decision of one that's done with wasting my limited time on something that's essentially masturbation.

I understand that it's a fun logic game for some people, but it just provokes me to eye rolling. It bores me, in other words.

To my mind, it really is wankery: the Oxfordian arguments just don't hold up. I went in prepared to believe them, having listened to Chuck for hours and been intrigued by the intrigue/conspiracy angle, and it's my considered estimation (after much reading) that they're all pretty bogus, up to and including the rationale that Oxford would have had to hide his authorship for reasons of its political radicalism bogus (Shakespeare's work is not only monarchist, it's downright conservative.).

There's the issue of Elizabethan collaboration, of Shakespeare being identified by name both in praise and derision by his fellow playmakers, the realities of being a working playwright...

...It's *silly.* Shakespeare, along with Burbage, Alleyn, Marlowe, Kemp, and the rest, were something of celebrities. They had social lives and social contacts.

It's the same reason the Marlovian arguments won't work. It's as ridiculous as laying a claim that Joachim Phoenix must really be River Phoenix, having faked his own death. (Willis takes a good crack at rational Marlovianism in "Winter's Tale," which is fiction, but is amusing and clever.)

Best take on Marlovianism? Peter Farey's a smart guy, but I think he's... well, constructing towers in opposition of Occam's razor, shall we say.

My vote goes to Jasper Fforde's door to door Marlovian evangelists, and moreover, to Tuesday Next handing them their heads.

The good news about Marlowe is that at least he would have had the chops to pull it off. The bad news is I don't think he could write a Shakespearean comedy if you put a gun to his head. (The humor he managed was savage farce; it's be like Harlan Ellison trying to write a Connie Willis story.)

There's also the little matter of Edward dying a decade before Shakespeare stopped writing. Why is it that every candidate for a Shakepseare replacement must have a faked death somewhere in its history?

And then there's the simple fact that Oxford couldn't write. He wasn't just a mediocre poet; he was an actively lousy one. I mean, cringingly bad. I am a writer; I understand a little bit about how juvenilia works. I'll buy Edmund Ironsides as Shakespearean juvenilia.

I won't buy this:

And since my mind, my wit, my head, my voice and tongue are weak,
To utter, move, devise, conceive, sound forth, declare and speak,
Such piercing plaints as answer might, or would my woeful case,
Help crave I must, and crave I will, with tears upon my face,
Of all that may in heaven or hell, in earth or air be found,
To wail with me this loss of mine, as of these griefs the ground.


(Which is, incidentally, the epigraph that starts off the prologue of The Stratford Man.)

That said, I have nothing against you personally, and I do welcome you to the journal, but I have absolutely no intention of discussing any Oxfordian theories seriously. Or reading any more books about the morally questionable old bastard. *g*
He wants to be Sidney when he grows up.

Astrophil and Stella 1

Loving in truth, and fain in verse my love to show,
That the dear she might take some pleasure of my pain,
Pleasure might cause her read, reading might make her know,
Knowledge might pity win, and pity grace obtain:

I sought fit words to paint the blackest face of woe,
Sutdying inventions fine, her wits to entertain;
Oft turning others' leaves, to see if thence would flow
Some fresh and fruitful showers upon my sunburnt brain.

But words came halting forth, wanting invention's stay;
Invention, Nature's child, fled step-dame study's blows,
And others' feet still seemed but strangers in my way.
Thus great with child to speak, and helpless in my throes,

Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite,
'Fool,' said my Muse to me, 'look in thy heart and write.'

--Sir Philip Sidney

I should also say, you have the absolute best lj name since tanonlinear.
Thank you kindly. One day, if we have beer in us, I'll tell you the story.
Wow! This is terribly impressive! I am in awe of the depth of your research here. Hmmm.... I know that somewhere in my boxes of books in the basement (bookshelves were a casualty of the move) I have a complete works of Shakespeare. I think I'll have to find it and read through the sonnets (which I never have before).
They're porn, man. I warn you. *g*
I vaguely remember reading something a couple of years ago about how if you read the sonnets in a different order from the one in which they're usually numbered it tells a coherent story different from what most people usually get out of them. Do you know anything about this?
I'm sure there's a dozen ways to put them together in some sensible manner.

There's also a bunch of weird numerology worked into the way they're presented that I don't pretend to understand at all.
Sonnets!

Get a good edition with a gloss. They're dense with the density.
We miss you around here, too.

Yeah, they're logical arguments. And then there's the other ones....
Thank you :)

Hullo the house

badgermirlacca sent me, for which I intend to thank her profusely.

I'm a student in the Mary Baldwin College MLITT Shakespeare In Performance program (info here), and I've been SO frustrated with my professors' very conservative attitude toward the sonnets, because I agree with you that they're a story. (I'm also frustrated with arguments of "that's just bad writing" in regard to some plot thing that doesn't make sense. The man told stories. If he put something in, there's a reason for it, says I.)

I'd never caught the Hathaway pun in 145, and wow. It makes a huge difference in how I look at that one, so thank you.

Re: Hullo the house

Nice to meet you! And welcome by any time.

There's another related pun in that one, too--"And saved my life" could be "Anne saved my life," if you liked...

I'm sure there are false trails and the ghosts of serial revisions on the plays--they must have been living documents when they were in production, after all. But yeah, I give the man a little credit for some sense of story....

Re: Hullo the house

You know, every time I hit that bit about "He left home and went to London and stayed there for YEARS so it must have been an unhappy marriage", and I think about every couple that's had to be separated because of work reasons, and go "Bleahhhrh."

Naval spouses, past and present, anyone? My brother used to travel regularly for his company, so I guess all those two-week trips to Europe and Korea and ghu knows where else were because he and his wife (40 years and counting now, I believe) Had Problems (like wanting to pay the mortgage and feed the kids, maybe?) Grrrr.

This is just plain stupid. Will wanted to do something specific for a living--he was (if most of the hard-core careerist theatrical people, musicians and writers I've encountered are any guide) pretty much compelled to do it or go mad, and he could really only do it in one place back then--London. So he went, and came home for Lent every year. It probably was pretty stressful, and took a toll on their marriage--they'd be pretty peculiar if it didn't. That doesn't mean it was a suck-dead-rats relationship he ran away to escape. It means life is complicated and doesn't fit into little boxes.

If anyone needs a clue, I have a nice selection here. Gift boxes are gratis.

Re: Hullo the house

*loffs*

I think it's possessiveness. They want him to be *theirs*. *Their* Will. Not tied to some nasty wife and kids who won't let him come out and play with the boys.

Also, there's that whole reputation for philandering thing. It's so much more forgiveable if his wife is an evil wench.

(Evidence suggests pretty strongly that he remained in close contact with his family, sent money home, and acted as an agent for the business interests of various Stratfordites in London. And it was only two days by horse, people, and there were regular pack trains. Not that far for a man who had to spend significant portions of the year as a strolling player anyway....

People have this delusion that not having autos means people never went anywhere.

Re: Hullo the house

Then again, given how many of these writers are men, I'm wondering if there isn't some transference and identifyin'-with going on there, that they haven't realized they do.

That was one of the things that caught my eye and ear on the PBS special, with what's his name--the In-search of* guy**--he went home, and he stayed in touch, and that sort of separation, because of career demands, wasn't all that unusual. Think of all the courtiers and government officials, who stuck with the court, or up in London, while their families stayed back in Whatevershire. Think, for godssake, of the Pastons. Of course, Shakespeare wasn't a member of the gentry, really, and the only reason non-gentlemen have for leaving home like that is because their marriages suck, right?



*He should be in search of a better title, by this time, really.

**Which had its moments, even if he descended into too much of the standby "This is in the text of X, so it must be about Shakespeare hisownself. Because, um, because."