“The Living Record” – 15 – Light vs. Dark

The Earl of Oxford’s special language (“invention”) in the Sonnets enables him to create two entirely different stories running simultaneously: one fiction, the other nonfiction; one expressing the universal and timeless poetry of love, the other recording real events occurring in real time.

The trick of this double-image writing is that, while proceeding “with the time” as in a diary, he restricts his subject matter to Southampton and the Queen while using many different adjectives to create the illusion of variety.  Refusing to acknowledge Southampton as her natural heir, Elizabeth regards him with her imperial frown that casts its dark clouds and shadows of disgrace upon him, as Oxford writes to him in Sonnet 53:

What is your substance, whereof are you made,
That millions of strange shadows on you tend?

Wholly committed to his royal son, Oxford shines his light into this darkness to keep illuminating him. The Sonnets record this struggle between Elizabeth and Oxford … between her negative, dark view of Southampton and his own positive, bright view of their son … this battle between the Queen’s view of Southampton as a bastard and Oxford’s view of him as a prince.  And in this
way, reflecting the struggle, he uses a variety of dark and light adjectives.

Elizabeth casts the shadow of her all-powerful frown upon Southampton, so he becomes:

Bare, Barren, Base, Black, Blamed, Dark, Darkly, Dateless, Despised, Disdained, Disgraced, False, Forlorn, Foul, Ghastly, Hidden, Masked, None, Profaned, Rank, Rotten, Sable, Scorned, Shamed, Slandered, Sullen, Sullied, Suspect, Ugly, Unfair, Unseen, Untrimmed, Vulgar, Wasted, Worst…

Oxford shines his light upon him so he becomes:

Abundant, Alike, All, Alone, Always, Beauteous, Beloved, Best, Blessed, Bounteous, Bright, Celestial, Clear, Constant, Controlling, Crowned, Darling, Dear, Dearest, Dearly, Divine, Entitled, Eternal, Excellent, Fair, Fairer, Fairest, Fairly, Fragrant, Fresh, Fresher, Full, Gaudy, Gentle, Gentlest,  Gently, Gilded, Glorious, Golden, Gracious, Green, Happy, High, Holy, Immortal, Kind, Lovely, Mightier, Near, Nearly, One, Only, Perfect, Powerful, Precious, Proud, Proudly, Pure, Purple, Rare, Religious, Rich, Richer, Right, Rightly, Riper, Scarlet, Silver, Special, Strong, Successive, Sweet, Sweetest, Sweetly, Tall, Tender, True, Virtuous, Wondrous, Worthy…

The lines of these sonnets are “lines of life” (Sonnet 16); they are lines of verse and blood lines; they are recreating Southampton’s life and blood; and because the Queen has turned him “black” with disgrace, the lines on the page have also been turned black.

Here is Oxford shining his light on their royal son in Sonnet 60:

Nativity, once in the main of light,
Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crowned,
Crooked eclipses ‘gainst his glory fight…

And here’s his defiance on behalf of Southampton’s “beauty” or blood from Elizabeth (who is Venus, goddess of Love and Beauty) in Sonnet 63:

His beauty shall in these black lines be seen,
And they shall live, and he in them still green.

In Sonnet 67 he wonders why “poor” Elizabeth (who is bankrupt of any other blood heirs) should cast her shadow upon the Tudor Rose when her son’s Tudor Rose blood is true or royal:

Why should poor beauty indirectly seek
Roses of shadow, since his Rose is true?

The universal poetry is still right there in front of us, but soon it becomes transparent and we can “see through it” to recognize the dynamic true story running in parallel just below the surface.  But for me this early glimpse of Oxford’s “invention” was just the beginning…

Published in: Uncategorized on January 22, 2009 at 5:59 am  Leave a Comment  

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