“The Living Record” – 16 – Family Triangle

So basically the special language of the Sonnets revolves around the “family triangle” of Oxford (father) and Elizabeth (mother) and  Southampton (royal son) identified by his motto One for All, All for One and simply as “all” and as “one”:

Since all alike my songs and praises be
To one, of one, still such, and ever so…
Therefore my verse to constancy confined,
One thing expressing, leaves out difference…
Fair, kind, and true have often lived alone,
Which three, till now, never kept seat in one.
Sonnet 105

(The family triangle has never kept the “seat” or throne in the person of their “one” royal son, who should be king.)

Resembling sire, and child, and happy mother,
Who all in one, one pleasing note do sing:
Whose speechless song, being many, seeming one
Sonnet 8

In the Dark Lady series to Elizabeth, as Oxford pleads with her on behalf of his son as “my next self,” again we find the three of them:

Me from my self thy cruel eye hath taken,
And my next self thou harder hast engrossed.
Of him, my self, and thee, I am forsaken,
A torment thrice three-fold to be crossed.
Sonnet 133

(As we shall see, the above lines are written to Elizabeth while Southampton is in the Tower during 1601-1603.  Oxford pleads on behalf of his imprisoned son while portraying himself as a tragic Christ figure being tortured by mental and emotional agony.)

In my mind I picture Oxford caught between them, trying to bring harmony between his royal son and his sovereign mistress.  As he wrote in a sonnet published in 1599 and then revised and inserted in the Dark Lady series:

Two loves I have of comfort and despair,
Which like two spirits do suggest me still,
The better angel is a man right fair,
The worser spirit is a woman colored ill.
Sonnet 144

Elizabeth is “black” or “dark” or “colored ill” only because of her negative viewpoint toward their son.  Oxford describes the birth of his royal son in Sonnet 33 and how “the region cloud” (Regina’s dark cloud of shame) covered or “masked” his royal identity (and even, at the beginning, removed him from Oxford’s sight):

Even so my Sunne one early morn did shine,
With all triumphant splendor on my brow,
But out alack, he was but one hour mine,
The region cloud hath masked him from me now.
Sonnet 33

As a participant in the story, Oxford himself is deeply involved; but as the author, he also “stands outside” while recording the story; and in this capacity he’s chronicling the real-life dramatic conflict between the Prince and his mother the Queen:

The fundamental story is that of Southampton struggling against Elizabeth to succeed her on the throne, with Oxford trying mightily to help him.

The words fall easily into place: Elizabeth’s dynasty of the Tudor Rose is The Rose; her House of Tudor is House and Mansion and Roof; her realm of England is The World; her royal will or pleasure is Pleasure and Will and Desire.  Southampton is The Boy, Bud, Cupid, Flower, Nativity, Creation, The Little Love-God, Fairest Creature, God in Love, Herald, King, Lord, Jewel, Ornament, Successive Heir, Sunne, Sun…

Once I had listed all the various words revolving around these two main characters (Southampton as protagonist and Elizabeth as antagonist), it suddenly struck me that I had actually overlooked the two most important and most frequently used words of them all:  LOVE and TIME.

And this, it would turn out, is the key…

Published in: Uncategorized on January 24, 2009 at 12:47 am  Leave a Comment  

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