“The Living Record” – 14 – Sonnet 76 (A)

So I figured, let’s see where this takes us.  Nowhere or somewhere…

If Oxford is building a “monument” to preserve “the living record” of Southampton as his royal son by the Queen, then this is a dangerous document of contemporary history.  And since Elizabeth had made it high treason to speak or write about any royal claim, this book by its very existence is treasonous.

Therefore he must be using some kind of special language to create a fictional (and universal) reality on the surface, while also recording the nonfictional (and specific) reality running in parallel just beneath it.  And even a quick glance at Sonnet 76 tells me that right here Oxford has inserted his instructions for understanding the specific meaning of his words.  Let’s start with the first four lines…

“Why is my verse so barren of new pride?”

Hmmm.  He’s talking directly about “my verse” or this particular sequence of sonnets.  And with this rhetorical question he speaks of the sequence as a womb that is now “barren” of what gives him “pride” (i.e., his royal son), as in “the pride of kingly sway” in Richard II, 4.1.206.  He’s a father who is literally trying to give birth — or rebirth — to his son (and prince) by means of the womb of these sonnets.

“So far from variation or quick change?”

These sonnets never vary — not in their form or contents.  And “quick change” is a deliberate echo of “quick with child” or the “quickening” (motion of the fetus) that signals the imminent birth of new life and growth.

“Why with the time do I not glance aside”

He is writing “with the time” or in relation to real events as they occur in real time, akin to creating the chronological entries of a diary.  And he is keeping his eyes straight, not glancing aside …

“To new-found methods, and to compounds strange?”

… to any new “methods” of writing.  And by this rhetorical question he announces that in this sonnet he’s going to tell us about the  “method” that he himself uses to create these little poems.  This method never varies or changes.  Metaphorically it involves “compounds” or mixtures of chemicals used in alchemy; but here, of course, it involves compounds or  mixtures of words, words, words.

He mixes his words in a strange or unique way to produce something greater than its parts.

Okay, this is exciting.  We’re on the brink of comprehending how he writes these private sonnets and, therefore, of being able to read the story he’s setting down for posterity as time keeps passing.

To be continued…

Published in: Uncategorized on January 14, 2009 at 4:36 am  Leave a Comment  

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