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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

[ Edited ]

Sonnet #20:

 

 

A woman's face with Nature's own hand painted

Hast thou, the master mistress of my passion;

A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted

With shifting change, as is false women's fashion;

An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,

Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;

A man in hue all hues in his controlling,

Which steals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth.

And for a woman wert thou first created,

Till Nature as she wrought thee fell a-doting,

And by addition me of thee defeated

By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.

   But since she pricked thee out for women's pleasure,

   Mine be thy love, and thy love's use their treasure.

Message Edited by ConnieK on 08-24-2009 10:55 AM
~ConnieAnnKirk




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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets


ConnieK wrote:

Sonnet #20:

 

 

A woman's face with Nature's own hand painted

Hast thou, the master mistress of my passion;

A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted

With shifting change, as is false women's fashion;

An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,

Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;

A man in hue all hues in his controlling,

Which ssteals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth.

And for a woman wert thou first created,

Till Natue aas she wrought thee fell a-doting,

And by addition me of thee defeated

By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.

   But since she pricked thee out for women's pleasure,

   Mine be thy love, and thy love's use their treasure.


"...since she pricked thee out for women's pleasure" is a pretty salacious sexual pun.

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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets


ConnieK wrote:

Sonnet #20:

 

 

A woman's face with Nature's own hand painted

Hast thou, the master mistress of my passion;

A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted

With shifting change, as is false women's fashion;

An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,

Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;

A man in hue all hues in his controlling,

Which steals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth.

And for a woman wert thou first created,

Till Nature as she wrought thee fell a-doting,

And by addition me of thee defeated

By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.

   But since she pricked thee out for women's pleasure,

   Mine be thy love, and thy love's use their treasure.


The Folger edition makes the following comment:

 

"The poet fantasizes that the young man's beauty is the result of Nature's changing her mind; she began to create a beautiful woman, fell in love with her own creation, and turned it into a man."  The poet then realizes that women will "receive pleasure" from the young man, but the poet can still have his love.

 

What role is androgyny, if any, playing in some of these sonnets, do you think?

~ConnieAnnKirk




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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets


ConnieK wrote:

ConnieK wrote:

Sonnet #20:

 

 

A woman's face with Nature's own hand painted

Hast thou, the master mistress of my passion;

A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted

With shifting change, as is false women's fashion;

An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,

Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;

A man in hue all hues in his controlling,

Which steals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth.

And for a woman wert thou first created,

Till Nature as she wrought thee fell a-doting,

And by addition me of thee defeated

By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.

   But since she pricked thee out for women's pleasure,

   Mine be thy love, and thy love's use their treasure.


The Folger edition makes the following comment:

 

"The poet fantasizes that the young man's beauty is the result of Nature's changing her mind; she began to create a beautiful woman, fell in love with her own creation, and turned it into a man."  The poet then realizes that women will "receive pleasure" from the young man, but the poet can still have his love.

 

What role is androgyny, if any, playing in some of these sonnets, do you think?


 

I think androgyny plays a major role in this sonnet.

 

Some examples: the subject, a man, has a woman's face (l.1).  He's called "master mistress," an odd phrase that can't refer to much other than androgyny. (l.2). He has a woman's heart and eye--but without the "womanly" characteristic of fickleness (ll. 3 7 5).  He was created as a woman, but Nature became distracted and added a penis (ll.9 & 11).  Finally, he can both love a man--the poet--and make love to women (ll 13 & 14).

 

The Folger Shakespeare edition points out that the word "nothing" in line 12 may have been a sexual punIn Elizabethan times, the "no thing" was slang for the vagina.  (We saw this not long ago in the title to "Much Ado About Nothing.")  So, the lines "And by addition me of thee defeated/By adding one thing to my purpose nothing" refers both to the penis ("the addition") and the vaginaAnd, if that ain't androgeny, I know not what is.  (BTW, I love the counterbalance Shakespeare uses in line 12 with the words "one thing" and "nothing."  That's androgeny in a nutshell.)

 

And, androgeny isn't a new theme in ShakespeareThis weekend, I saw a production of "Twelfth Night" at the Old Globe in San DiegoThe play concerns identical twins (who happen to be boy and girl.)  The sister dresses as a man, and becomes a servant to Count OrsinoOrsino makes some interesting sexual overtures to him (not knowing he's a her).  Then, the Countess tries to seduce the sister who's playing a man. Meanwhile, the guardian of the brother, a former sea captain, tries to get the brother in bedIn the end, the brother marries the Countess and the sister marries the Count.

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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets


ConnieK wrote:

Sonnet #20:

 

 

A woman's face with Nature's own hand painted

Hast thou, the master mistress of my passion;

A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted

With shifting change, as is false women's fashion;

An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,

Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;

A man in hue all hues in his controlling,

Which steals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth.

And for a woman wert thou first created,

Till Nature as she wrought thee fell a-doting,

And by addition me of thee defeated

By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.

   But since she pricked thee out for women's pleasure,

   Mine be thy love, and thy love's use their treasure.

Message Edited by ConnieK on 08-24-2009 10:55 AM

Don't we again have an odd structure for this sonnet?  Instead of the standard four-quatrain, ending couplet structure, I believe we have a six-six-two format.  The first segment begins with the words "A woman's face,"  the second (in line 7), begins "A man in hue..."

 

And, note the unusual rhymes in lines 9-12: "created/defeated," and "a-doting/nothing."  (The last rhyme proves the theory that the word "nothing" was pronounced as "noting" in Elizabethan times.  Therefore, the tiitle of the play "Much Ado about Nothing" was, at least, a triple pun--nothing, noting, and no-thing.)

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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

Sonnet #21:

 

 

So is it not with me as with that muse

Stirred by a painted beauty to his verse,

Who heaven itself for ornament doth use

And every fair with his fair doth rehearse,

Making a couplement of proud compare

With sun and moon, with earth and sea's rich gems,

With April's firstborn flowers and all things rare

That heaven's air in this huge rondure hems.

O, let me, true in love, but truly write,

And then believe me, my love is as fair

As any mother's child, though not so bright

As those gold candles fixed in heaven's air.

   Let them say more that like of hearsay well;

   I will not praise that purpose not to sell.

 

 

~ConnieAnnKirk




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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets


ConnieK wrote:

Sonnet #21:

 

 

So is it not with me as with that muse

Stirred by a painted beauty to his verse,

Who heaven itself for ornament doth use

And every fair with his fair doth rehearse,

Making a couplement of proud compare

With sun and moon, with earth and sea's rich gems,

With April's firstborn flowers and all things rare

That heaven's air in this huge rondure hems.

O, let me, true in love, but truly write,

And then believe me, my love is as fair

As any mother's child, though not so bright

As those gold candles fixed in heaven's air.

   Let them say more that like of hearsay well;

   I will not praise that purpose not to sell.

 

 


 

The opening lines remind me of the opening invocation of Shakespeare's Henry V:

 

O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!

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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

So, we return to our reading of the sonnets in December, 2009.  Looks like we are up to #22.

 

 

 

Sonnet #22:

 

My glass shall not persuade me I am old

So long as youth and thou are of one date,

But when in thee Time's furrows I behold,

Then look I death my days should expiate.

For all that beauty that doth cover thee

Is but the seemly rainment of my heart,

Which in thy breast doth live, as thine in me;

How can I then be elder than thou art?

O, therefore, love, be of thyself so wary

As I not for myself but for thee will,

Bearing thy heart, which I will keep so chary

As tender nurse her babe from faring ill.

   Presume not on thy heart when mine is slain.

   Thou gav'st me thine not to give back again.

~ConnieAnnKirk




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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets


 

 

Sonnet #22:

 

My glass shall not persuade me I am old

So long as youth and thou are of one date,

But when in thee Time's furrows I behold,

Then look I death my days should expiate.

For all that beauty that doth cover thee

Is but the seemly rainment of my heart,

Which in thy breast doth live, as thine in me;

How can I then be elder than thou art?

O, therefore, love, be of thyself so wary

As I not for myself but for thee will,

Bearing thy heart, which I will keep so chary

As tender nurse her babe from faring ill.

   Presume not on thy heart when mine is slain.

   Thou gav'st me thine not to give back again.


Is Shakespeare saying that the mirror can't tell the speaker he(she) is old as long as his (we'll say) loved one looks young to him? 

~ConnieAnnKirk




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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

Sonnet #23:

 

An an unperfect actor on the stage

Who with his fear is put beside his part,

Or some fierce thing replete with too much rage,

Whose strength's abundance weakens his own heart;

So I for fear of trust forget to say

The perfect ceremony of love's rite,

And in mine own love's strength seem to decay,

O'ercharged with burden of mine own love's might.

O, let my books be then the eloquence

And dumb presagers of my speaking breast,

Who pleased for love and look for recompense

More than that tongue that more hath more

       expressed.

   O, learn to read what silent love hath writ,

   To hear with eyes belongs to love's fine wit.

 

 

~ConnieAnnKirk




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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

Where are our sonneteers?  :smileywink:  I've hesitated putting up more sonnets unless someone would like to discuss one of the ones up already.

 

Is there something about sonnets that confuses readers?  Are we all just enjoying the holidays?

 

Do you prefer Shakespeare's plays to his sonnets?

~ConnieAnnKirk




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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets


ConnieK wrote:

Where are our sonneteers?  :smileywink:  I've hesitated putting up more sonnets unless someone would like to discuss one of the ones up already.

 

Is there something about sonnets that confuses readers?  Are we all just enjoying the holidays?

 

Do you prefer Shakespeare's plays to his sonnets?


 

ConnieK--I do love the sonnets.  However, I fell off the edge of the Earth in December.  Keep it up and I'll reengage.

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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets


friery wrote:

ConnieK wrote:

Where are our sonneteers?  :smileywink:  I've hesitated putting up more sonnets unless someone would like to discuss one of the ones up already.

 

Is there something about sonnets that confuses readers?  Are we all just enjoying the holidays?

 

Do you prefer Shakespeare's plays to his sonnets?


 

ConnieK--I do love the sonnets.  However, I fell off the edge of the Earth in December.  Keep it up and I'll reengage.


Thanks for your comment, friery.  We missed you!  I'll bring them back soon.

~ConnieAnnKirk




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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

[ Edited ]

It's April, 2010, and for National Poetry Month we're returning to the sonnets.  Let's go back one before we continue talking about them as we have been, in order.

 

Here's the last sonnet posted, back in December.  Folks got busy, so there wasn't much discussion about this one.  Let's turn back to it.  What strikes you about this sonnet?

 

 

 

Sonnet #23:

 

As an unperfect actor on the stage

Who with his fear is put beside his part,

Or some fierce thing replete with too much rage,

Whose strength's abundance weakens his own heart;

So I for fear of trust forget to say

The perfect ceremony of love's rite,

And in mine own love's strength seem to decay,

O'ercharged with burden of mine own love's might.

O, let my books be then the eloquence

And dumb presagers of my speaking breast,

Who pleased for love and look for recompense

More than that tongue that more hath more

       expressed.

   O, learn to read what silent love hath writ,

   To hear with eyes belongs to love's fine wit.

 

~ConnieAnnKirk




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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets--No. 23

Some quick comments--

 

This is a rather simple sonnet, but the craftsmanship is once again exceptional.  It's full of alliteration and assonance.  The line, "More than that tongue that more hath more expressed" is almost awkward.  But I think it's a case of Shakespeare's fitting the thought to the sound and rhythm of the words.  Look at the "th" sounds.  And the "O" in "more" (times three) and "tongue".

 

The double images in the first stanza of the awkward actor and the "fierce thing" are echoed in the second stanza with the lover's "forgetting his lines" and his strength o'ercharged with might.  And the poem drips with duality--speech and dumbness, rage and timidity.

There are several oxymorons (at least, that's what I think of them).  "Hear with eyes" and "dumb presagers."

 

Why are so many of the lines comprised of nine words? Lines 2, 3, 5, 7, 12, 13, and 14.  (And maybe 8, if you count "O'charged" as two words.)  These are lines with mostly monosyllabic words--what's the effect of this?

 

Finally, there's the pivot point of the poem, in line 5, "fear of trust."  That's an awfully ambiguous phrase.  Trust in whom or what?  Is it being trusted, or giving trust?  Or being given trust, as in responsibility?

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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets--No. 23

friery wrote:

Some quick comments--

 

This is a rather simple sonnet, but the craftsmanship is once again exceptional.  It's full of alliteration and assonance.  The line, "More than that tongue that more hath more expressed" is almost awkward.  But I think it's a case of Shakespeare's fitting the thought to the sound and rhythm of the words.  Look at the "th" sounds.  And the "O" in "more" (times three) and "tongue".

 

The double images in the first stanza of the awkward actor and the "fierce thing" are echoed in the second stanza with the lover's "forgetting his lines" and his strength o'ercharged with might.  And the poem drips with duality--speech and dumbness, rage and timidity.

There are several oxymorons (at least, that's what I think of them).  "Hear with eyes" and "dumb presagers."

 

Why are so many of the lines comprised of nine words? Lines 2, 3, 5, 7, 12, 13, and 14.  (And maybe 8, if you count "O'charged" as two words.)  These are lines with mostly monosyllabic words--what's the effect of this?

 

Finally, there's the pivot point of the poem, in line 5, "fear of trust."  That's an awfully ambiguous phrase.  Trust in whom or what?  Is it being trusted, or giving trust?  Or being given trust, as in responsibility?

 

I'm intrigued by the images of the actor and the book.  I'm caught up in those, and also in the idea of fear that intrigues you, friery.

 

I'm thinking the actor has "stage fright," that he will forget his lines.  He is an "unperfect actor," who is "put beside" - separated from? - "his part."  Could that mean that his fear makes him unable to become his part because he forgets his lines?

 

So, "let my books be then the eloquence," meaning that as an actor he is "unperfect" in expressing his feelings, so he hopes the one receiving the poem will "learn to read what silent love hath writ." ?

 

What I'm wondering, too, though is that does an actor playing a role suggest that the book is also not, somehow, authentic to the writer's real feelings? 

 

Or am I just confusing myself unnecessarily?  It wouldn't be the first time - ha!  :smileyvery-happy:

~ConnieAnnKirk




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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets--No. 23


 

I'm intrigued by the images of the actor and the book.  I'm caught up in those, and also in the idea of fear that intrigues you, friery.

 

I'm thinking the actor has "stage fright," that he will forget his lines.  He is an "unperfect actor," who is "put beside" - separated from? - "his part."  Could that mean that his fear makes him unable to become his part because he forgets his lines?

 

So, "let my books be then the eloquence," meaning that as an actor he is "unperfect" in expressing his feelings, so he hopes the one receiving the poem will "learn to read what silent love hath writ." ?

 

What I'm wondering, too, though is that does an actor playing a role suggest that the book is also not, somehow, authentic to the writer's real feelings? 

 

Or am I just confusing myself unnecessarily?  It wouldn't be the first time - ha!  :smileyvery-happy:

Notice the meter of the first line.  I don't think it's iambic pentameter. Maybe anapestic trimeter?  (Try saying that five times fast).  If true, Shakespeare could in the rhythm of the line be portraying the awkwardness of the "unperfect actor" as he stumbles around the stage.

 

I had focused on the "trust" part of the phrase "fear of trust".  But you have an excellent point--the poem may be more about fear.  The speaker certainly fears that his words of love may fail.  But he's not a lot more confident that his "books" will do the job, either. 

 

And, by the way, what does "books" mean in this context?  The Arden Shakespeare edition says it could simply be his writings.  But it also could mean the prompt-book from which the play was directed and acted.  (To complicate the story even more, Helen Vendler says the word is "looks.")

 

Finally, Vendler notes that the sonnet is about tongue-tiedness.  And she notices a third character in the poem--an unnamed rival who is not tongue-tied, but articulate, in line 12, whose "tongue...hath more expressed."

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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets--No. 24

Let's keep going with another poem.

 

Sonnet #24:

 

Mine eye hath played the painter and hath [stelled]

Thy beauty's form in table of my heart;

My body is the frame wherein 'tis held,

And perspective it is best painter's art.

For through the painter must you see his skill

To find where your true image pictured lies,

Which in my bosom's shop is hanging still,

That hath his windows glazed with thine eyes.

Now see what good turns eyes for eyes have done:

Mine eyes have drawn thy shape, and thine for me

Are windows to my breast, wherethrough the sun

Delights to peep, to gaze therein on thee.

  Yet eyes this cunning want to grace their art:

  They draw but what they see, know not the heart.

~ConnieAnnKirk




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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets--No. 24

ConnieK wrote:

Let's keep going with another poem.

 

Sonnet #24:

 

Mine eye hath played the painter and hath [stelled]

Thy beauty's form in table of my heart;

My body is the frame wherein 'tis held,

And perspective it is best painter's art.

For through the painter must you see his skill

To find where your true image pictured lies,

Which in my bosom's shop is hanging still,

That hath his windows glazed with thine eyes.

Now see what good turns eyes for eyes have done:

Mine eyes have drawn thy shape, and thine for me

Are windows to my breast, wherethrough the sun

Delights to peep, to gaze therein on thee.

  Yet eyes this cunning want to grace their art:

  They draw but what they see, know not the heart.

What a charming poem. 

 

How many times does Shakespeare repeat the word eye?  Or see, or gaze, or image, or pictured, or window (or glaze, which is related).  And, of course, the sun "peeps."

 

Helen Vendler calls the poem a "charm of rococo fantasy."  Yet, after all that rococo figuring, the couplet seems to withdraw a bit, with almost lingering disappointment:  the artist still can't adequately portray what's in his heart.

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