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TOPIC: First 17 sonnets

First 17 sonnets 11 years 2 months ago #143

  • William Shakespeare
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These sonnets are addressed to a young man of exceptional beauty who is encouraged to father children. What is striking about this series is:

- There are exactly 17 sonnets that are all centred on encouraging the young man to marry and father children. Seventeen is an unusual and distinctive number that seems to indicate its own significance. The content of the sonnets shows no evidence of input to them from outside of the author during their development: no questions are answered, there is no change of direction in response to any feedback from the subject, they appear to be a preset series issued together. The deliberate intent of these sonnets and the fact that a sonnet itself conforms to regular numbering schemes also suggests that the series containing precisely 17 is not accidental.

- The encouragement of a person to marry and father children is an unusual theme, if not unique, in the world of Elizabethan poetry. That the author himself should have been personally motivated to invest such time and effort and have the temerity to do such a thing strikes me as extremely unlikely. In an age of commissioned poetic works, this series of sonnets being commissioned from the author by another party seems to be the most plausible scenario by which such a poetic work could only come about.

- The series betrays a lack of understanding of why the subject fails to marry and have children of his own accord:

Sonnet 3 asks what fair woman would not welcome the opportunity of being the subject's wife:

"For where is she so fair whose uneared womb
Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry?"

and what man would willingly fail to leave children:

"Or who is he so fond will be the tomb
Of his self-love to stop posterity?"

Sonnet 4 asks why the subject does not continue his legacy of beauty:

"Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend
Upon thyself thy beauty's legacy?"

and why he fails to pass on his beauty in the form of children:

"Then, beauteous niggard, why dost thou abuse
The bounteous largess given thee to give?"

and what he will leave behind him when has died:

"Then how when nature calls thee to be gone:
What acceptable audit canst thou leave?"

Sonnet 6 asks what defeated death could do if the subject leaves children:

"Then what could death do if thou shouldst depart,
Leaving thee living in posterity?"

Sonnet 9 asks whether he doesn't marry because he does not wish to face the prospect of leaving a widow:

"Is it for fear to wet a widow's eye
That thou consum'st thyself in single life?"

Sonnet 13 asks what man fails to commit to being a husband to enable his own beauty to be passed on to his offspring as his beauty declines:

"Who lets so fair a house fall to decay,
Which husbandry in honour might uphold
Against the stormy gusts of winter's day,
And barren rage of death's eternal cold?"

Sonnet 16 asks why the subject fails to fortify himself against time by having children which is a better way to tackle time than the author's verse:

"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?"

There are no answers provided to these questions, but it is clear that the young man's contemporaries were unable to explain the subject's failure to commit to the naturally expected step of marrying and fathering children.
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First 17 sonnets 10 years 2 months ago #1349

  • Mike thomas
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Judging from your site, you've given a great deal of thought to the Sonnets in one way or another.

Your analysis of Sonnet 126 is a cracker, but I think flawed.

The problem for anyone who tries analysing Shake-speares Sonnets, is that it is natural to think they were directed towards some person or other. The consequences are the so-called dark lady and the young man etc.

Anyone reading the Sonnets would normally assume that there are real people mentioned. This leads to the current state of affairs.

I don't understand how so many intelligent people can write so much about Shakespeare but achieve nothing but hot air (or sometimes a nice little bank account).

As for understanding the Sonnets: perhaps the problem lies in the way they are seen: adults see adult subjects in the Sonnets - homosexual or bisexual etc. That's how adults think. Most adults (excluding myself) cannot see the wood for the trees.

Consider the times in which the Sonnets were put together: open your mouth at the wrong time, or say something which someone finds offensive, and off with your head. We are talking about the days when they drew aout the intestines of the condemmed, before their eyes. We are speaking about the mindset that took innocent women and burnt them alive, because a line in the Bible says witches must not be allowed to live. All those horrors were the inventions of adult, ignorant, and frightened minds.

The point is that in those times people thought very differently than they do now. In which case, whoever wants to understand the Sonnets - indeed any Shakespeare - needs to think in a less adult way, and more like an innocent kid.

I'm short of the skills to communicate exactly my thoughts, so I hope my drift is clear.

As for the Sonnets, you question the two pairs of brackets at the foot of Sonnet 126. I thought it was very obvious, but I must be mistaken. And how come nobody mentions the acrostic anagram on the left side: TIS MY SHADOW A?

It will seem madness itsef has visited this forum, but that anagram holds a crucial key to opening the Sonnets - if only it could be seen through the eyes of a child.

That's the very reason why you cannot grasp the meaning of those 17 Sonnets: think M r WH; think about r being the only little letter on the dedication page; think big letters parents, little letter - child- letter r; think r is 17th in old abc; think father of r is Greek P; think two pairs of blank brackets; think PARENT hesis; think Time's sickle-glass sickle-hour, think four brackets; think like a little kid who plays with the alphabet, and takes the letter A, and turns it around, and sees an Egyptian staring back; think Tis my shadow A; think prim shy maiden's eye; think not so shy Cleopatra's eye; think...

I'll give you more feedback as I read your pages.

Best regards ... /intro.htm
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