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friery
Posts: 209
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets


Mariposa wrote:

I found this in a review of a book on homosexuality in Renaissance England:

 

"Widely considered the best study of its kind Homosexuality in Renaissance England clearly shows why the modern image of the homosexual cannot be applied to the early modern period, when homosexual behavior was viewed in terms of the sexual act and not an individual's broader identity."

 

So a man could be married, take a male lover, and not define himself as a homosexual. Therefore, the poems could be inspired by a male, and Shakespeare is pleading with the lover to have children so part of him will achieve a kind of immortality.

 

Anyhow that is something to think about.


 

Very interesting observation.

 

Here's another theory for us to mull over.  I've read that James I of England, who succeeded Elizabeth in 1703, may have been homosexual or bisexual.  (One apparent quote about him was Rex fuit Elizabeth, nunc est regina Jacobus--Elizabeth was King, now James is Queen.) 

 

Shakespeare wrote at least one major work with James in mind--Macbeth (James was entranced with witches and witchcraft.)  Could Shakespeare have had the new monarch in the back of his mind when he wrote the sonnets?

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friery
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

Let's do that again.  James VI of Scotland became James I of England in 1603, not 1703.
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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets


friery wrote:

ConnieK wrote:

Love the thought going into these readings.

 

 This is a much less elegant question than you all have been asking, but...

 

Why the heck is Shakespeare so intent that this young man reproduce?


 

I do have to admit, this is a puzzlement.

 

Here's another thought.  We, and the critics, usually assume the speaker/poet/interlocutor in the sonnets is Shakespeare.  But he was an actor and a director as well as a poet and playwright.  Do you think he may actually have been creating a character (or characters) in the dramatic sense in the sonnets?  After all, it isn't just one or two or ten sonnets in a series, but well over a hundred.  And the first few sonnets we're read seem to me to unfold in a dramatic way. 


 

Oh yes, yes.  I apologize--I misspoke.  I meant to say why does the "speaker" want this youth to reproduce.  One should not assume the speaker of a poem is the poet.  Poetry 101--ha!
~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

Sonnet #14:

 

 

Not from the stars do I my judgment pluck,

And yet methinks I have astronomy--

But not to tell of good or evil luck,

Of plagues, of dearths, or season's quality;

Nor can I fortune to brief minutes tell,

Pointing to each his thunder, rain, and wind,

Or say with princes if it shall go well

By oft predict that I in heaven find.

But from thine eyes my knowledge I derive,

And, constant stars, in them I read such art

As truth and beauty shall together thrive

If from thyself to store thou wouldst convert;

  Or else of thee this I prognosticate:

  Thy end is truth's and beauty's doom and date.

 

 

 

~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
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friery
Posts: 209
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets


ConnieK wrote:

friery wrote:

ConnieK wrote:

Love the thought going into these readings.

 

 This is a much less elegant question than you all have been asking, but...

 

Why the heck is Shakespeare so intent that this young man reproduce?


 

I do have to admit, this is a puzzlement.

 

Here's another thought.  We, and the critics, usually assume the speaker/poet/interlocutor in the sonnets is Shakespeare.  But he was an actor and a director as well as a poet and playwright.  Do you think he may actually have been creating a character (or characters) in the dramatic sense in the sonnets?  After all, it isn't just one or two or ten sonnets in a series, but well over a hundred.  And the first few sonnets we're read seem to me to unfold in a dramatic way. 


 

Oh yes, yes.  I apologize--I misspoke.  I meant to say why does the "speaker" want this youth to reproduce.  One should not assume the speaker of a poem is the poet.  Poetry 101--ha!

 

No aology necessary.  I still think that the best guess is that it is Shakespeare talking. 

 

I once read that poetry is the most subjective of all the arts.  So, that always brings you closer to identifying the poet and the poetry.

Frequent Contributor
Mariposa
Posts: 133
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

The last line of Sonnet 14 is so incredibly powerful:

 

"Thy end is truth's and beauty's doom and date."

 

Again talk of a loved one's passing.

 

I agree. I do believe this is the voice of Shakespeare and I can't help but believe that he is responding to someone he loves. The passion is too strong, in my opinion, to be created just for the sake of a poem. These poems seems to flow one into the other.

Contributor
DylanMeeks
Posts: 18
Registered: ‎07-10-2009

Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

I still can't help but think that a death is imminent. There's this sense of urgency in all of these sonnets, as if either the poet or the subject does not have much time. Maybe it is a real death or some other event that will tear them apart ending their relationship, but like one of the sonnets before echoing a ticking clock, there is a definite deadline looming ahead.

 

And I completely agree with Mariposa about the passion in these sonnets, especially in the last line. There is a very deep, serious love between the poet and the subject of the poems. You can feel the heartbreak in each line of impossible choices, weathering life's storms, and a probably forbidden love.

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friery
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets


ConnieK wrote:

Sonnet #14:

 

 

Not from the stars do I my judgment pluck,

And yet methinks I have astronomy--

But not to tell of good or evil luck,

Of plagues, of dearths, or season's quality;

Nor can I fortune to brief minutes tell,

Pointing to each his thunder, rain, and wind,

Or say with princes if it shall go well

By oft predict that I in heaven find.

But from thine eyes my knowledge I derive,

And, constant stars, in them I read such art

As truth and beauty shall together thrive

If from thyself to store thou wouldst convert;

  Or else of thee this I prognosticate:

  Thy end is truth's and beauty's doom and date.

 

 

 


 

This is an absolutely charming poem.  And, as always, Shakespeare's craftsmanship is exceptional.

 

Note the first words of each of the quatrains: Not, Nor, and But.  These words are disjunctive, or negative.  Then, notice the first word of the couplet, Or.  That's a contrast with the other three opening words.

 

The first two quatrains have to do with astrology, which is fate, and that is immutable.  But the third to last line of the poem and the closing couplet take us in an entirely different direction.  Here, there is choice.  And that is within our power, not that of the stars.

 

The phrase "truth and beauty" in line 11 is compelling.  That is what is available to the youth (and, I suppose, to us as readers), if we make the right choice.  And the phrase suggests almost Platonic ideals.  These ideals contrast vividly with the natural phenomena, such as plagues, thunder, and seasonal plenty, that Shakespeare describes in the earlier lines.  The phrase also suggests the last lines of Keats' Ode on a Grecian Urn: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty--that is all  Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."  I wonder if Keats had his volume of Shakespearean sonnets open when he was composing that.

 

The last line of the sonnet, "Thy end is truth's and beauty's doom and date," is fabulous.  In earlier sonnets, we've seen the youth's refusal to procreate as depriving society and destroying the house of his family.  Shakespeare now shows that refusal could cause the death of human ideals.  Great stuff indeed.

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Mariposa
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

I amazed, beyond the thematic aspects, how strictly Shakespeare conforms so perfectly in his poems to the technical requirements of the sonnet. I have once tried to write a sonnet. It is extremely difficult simply to adhere to the format, but then also, to say something significant and use poetic language. I am in awe.

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Benedict3
Posts: 49
Registered: ‎02-27-2009
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

In shakespeare, the point is always direct.  There is no characters point of view, there are only characters playing out the act.  The point of view is always from the genious of shakespeare.

ConnieK wrote:

friery wrote:

ConnieK wrote:

Love the thought going into these readings.

 

 This is a much less elegant question than you all have been asking, but...

 

Why the heck is Shakespeare so intent that this young man reproduce?


 

I do have to admit, this is a puzzlement.

 

Here's another thought.  We, and the critics, usually assume the speaker/poet/interlocutor in the sonnets is Shakespeare.  But he was an actor and a director as well as a poet and playwright.  Do you think he may actually have been creating a character (or characters) in the dramatic sense in the sonnets?  After all, it isn't just one or two or ten sonnets in a series, but well over a hundred.  And the first few sonnets we're read seem to me to unfold in a dramatic way. 


 

Oh yes, yes.  I apologize--I misspoke.  I meant to say why does the "speaker" want this youth to reproduce.  One should not assume the speaker of a poem is the poet.  Poetry 101--ha!

 

Correspondent
friery
Posts: 209
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

That's an interesting observation.  One quibble I have is that I think there is at least one additional POV--and that's the actor's.  I say this based on a production of Macbeth I saw in San Diego a week ago.  I've always been bothered by Lady Macbeth's suicide--I never really felt there was enough justification for it, either on the page or in the productions I've seen.  (I've also felt the same way towards Ophelia's suicide in Hamlet.)  But the young woman who played Lady Macbeth definitely convinced me that it was justified.  Her performance grew twitchier, her voice more shrill as the pressure increased.  So, I really believe you have to add the actor to the mix.

 


Benedict3 wrote:
In shakespeare, the point is always direct.  There is no characters point of view, there are only characters playing out the act.  The point of view is always from the genious of shakespeare.

Author
ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

Don't let me rush anyone--I just like to give us a couple of sonnets a week to consider. (In fact, I'm a little behind this week, perhaps).

 

 

Sonnet #15:

 

When I consider everything that grows

Holds in perfection but a little moment,

That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows

Whereon the stars in secret influence comment;

When I perceive that men as plants increase,

Cheered and checked even by the selfsame sky,

Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease,

And wear their brave state out of memory;

Then the conceit of this inconstant stay

Sets you most rich in youth before my sight,

Where wasteful Time debateth with Decay

To change your day of youth to sullied night;

  And, all in war with Time for love of you,

  As he takes from you, I engraft you new.

~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
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Mariposa
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

And how does Shakespeare, in war with Time, engraft his lover anew? Once again, I believe through the writing of the poem. For it is the poem that is immortal, the poem that does not age or decay.

 

There are so many couplets here that stand alone so beautifully:

 

"When I consider everything that grows

Holds in perfection but a little moment"

 

How true is that and how beautifully articulated!  Or this one:

 

"Where wasteful Time debateth with Decay

To change your day of youth to sullied night;"

 

One of the other joys of Shakespeare for me has always been to read it aloud. The sound of the language is melodious.

 

Shakespeare is delicious.

Correspondent
friery
Posts: 209
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets


 

Sonnet #15:

 

When I consider everything that grows

Holds in perfection but a little moment,

That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows

Whereon the stars in secret influence comment;

When I perceive that men as plants increase,

Cheered and checked even by the selfsame sky,

Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease,

And wear their brave state out of memory;

Then the conceit of this inconstant stay

Sets you most rich in youth before my sight,

Where wasteful Time debateth with Decay

To change your day of youth to sullied night;

  And, all in war with Time for love of you,

  As he takes from you, I engraft you new.

 


Shakespeare uses a theatrical metaphor in line 3: "this huge stage."  We see this metaphor very often in his plays.  ("Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage / and then is heard no more." Macbeth.)

 

The appearance of the word "conceit" in line 9 is cleverThe entire poem is a conceit--an extended metaphor, comparing man to plantsBut the word "conceit" also means excessive pride, and that is what the youth is guilty of.

 

The sonnet represents a giant arcThe first six lines show the plant growing to the "huge stage" of the skyThen, beginning suddenly in line 7, the height decreases, and night and decay set inThe process is inexorable.

 

Helen Vendler says "The last five lines, sung under the sign of the sullying scythe, remain a hymn to the human love-syllable, you:"

 

Sets you most rich in youth before my sight,

Where wasteful Time debateth with Decay

To change your day of youth to sullied night;

  And, all in war with Time for love of you,

  As he takes from you, I engraft you new.

 

Note also that the closing couplet is almost entirely monosyllables.  (Other than the word "engraft," which may be set aside for emphasis.)  After the polysyllabic, flowery, conceited language of the three quatrains, the couplet sounds staccato and thus urgent.

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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

Sonnet #16:

 

 

But wherefore do not you a mightier way

Make war upon this bloody tyrant Time,

And fortify yourself in your decay

With means more blessed than my barren rhyme?

Not stand you on the top of happy hours,

And many maiden gardens, yet unset,

With virtuous wish would bear your living flowers,

Much liker than your painted counterfeit.

So should the lines of life that life repair

Which this time's pencil or my pupil pen

Neither in inward worth nor outward fair

Can make you live yourself in eyes of men.

  To give away yourself keeps yourself still,

  And you must live, drawn by your own sweet skill.

 

 

~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
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DylanMeeks
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

I'm not sure if I have the meaning of this one quite clearly yet, but I'll just talk it out.

 

The poet's hatred of time grows calling it a tyrant that is stealing away the youthful life of either the relationship or the subject of the poem. But here the poet seems to be asking for and encouraging a better way of waging a war against time. The poet tells his subject that he should not feel obligated to continue to be the first at the party (top of happy hours) or stare at maiden gardens (possibly greener pastures) wishing that those young gardens would grow his seed (possibly back to the idea of finding an appropriate match to bear children) and bloom flowers more real and true than a portrait. (I'm wondering if the subject of the poem is a painter)

 

The last few lines are more clear. Neither the self-worth inside nor the outward appearance will ever make society truly happy and it seems the subject would not want to live the way men believe he should. But giving oneself to this societal view will actually ensure that oneself is replicated and preserved forever in the form of an heir.

 

So, it seems the poet wants the subject to stop looking longingly at maiden gardens or trying to be the life of the party as ways to wage war against time. Instead the poet is asking that his subject give up some of himself in order to actually keep himself in the hearts and minds of the world through an heir. He's telling him to give up a part in order to preserve the whole essence of that person. At least that's what it seems to me.

 

Dylan

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friery
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets


ConnieK wrote:

Sonnet #16:

 

 

But wherefore do not you a mightier way

Make war upon this bloody tyrant Time,

And fortify yourself in your decay

With means more blessed than my barren rhyme?

Not stand you on the top of happy hours,

And many maiden gardens, yet unset,

With virtuous wish would bear your living flowers,

Much liker than your painted counterfeit.

So should the lines of life that life repair

Which this time's pencil or my pupil pen

Neither in inward worth nor outward fair

Can make you live yourself in eyes of men.

  To give away yourself keeps yourself still,

  And you must live, drawn by your own sweet skill.

 

 


 

The opening word "but" tells us that this is a continuation of the sonnet that went before.

 

And this is the first sonnet that really identifies the speaker--he's a poet.  ("My barren rhyme.")  And that supports Shakespeare as the speaker throughout the sonnets.

 

The flower imagery in the second quatrain elaborates on the man-as-plant image of the preceding sonnetAnd we've seen the use of the word "sweet" as it appears in some earlier sonnets as a term of endearment towards the youth.

 

Helen Vendler mentions that the image in the opening two lines of war upon "tyrant time" seems to be basically abandoned in the rest of the sonnetBut, listen carefully--the word "war" reappears in disguise in the last few lines of the poemWe see "inward," "outward," and even the word "drawn" in the final line.  Very clever.

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lovepink1980
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Registered: ‎07-27-2009
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

I read it as a response to vanity. To once have desire in nature and other beauty, now be fully engulfed in one's self.
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battlemaiden
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎08-01-2009
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

Shakespeare did write Macbeth specifically for James I, because James was the descendent of the real life Banquo.  The real Banquo was an ally of Macbeth and not his moral counterpoint as portrayed in the play.Just another example of how Shakespeare used elements of his plays to flatter Elizabeth and James who were his sponsors.

 

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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

Sonnet #17:

 

 

Who will believe my verse in time to come

If it were filled with your most high deserts?

Though yet, heaven knows, it is but as a tomb

Which hides our life and shows not half your parts.

If I could write of the beauty of your eyes

And in fresh numbers number all your graces,

The age to come sould say "This poet lies;

Such heavenly touches ne'er touched earthly faces."

So should my papers yellowed with their age,

Be scorned, like old men of less truth than tongue,

And your true rights be termed a poet's rage

And stretched meter of an antique song.

  But were some child of yours alive that time,

  You should live twice--in it and in my rhyme.

 

 

~ConnieAnnKirk




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