“The Living Record” – 18 – The Bridge

So Oxford’s great obsession with TIME in the Sonnets suddenly became understandable in a very concrete way — in a literal way.  Is it possible, I wondered, that the actual time line of Sonnets 1-126 (where TIME appears exclusively) was tied to the ever-waning life of Elizabeth, leading to her death and the succession?  If so, it meant Oxford was writing the entries of this poetical diary while on the edge of his seat, so to speak; he knew it would come to a screeching halt when the Queen died (or at least upon her funeral), but he could not know when that would happen; so he was writing in a very real race with time.

In doing so he was creating his own record of Southampton as Elizabeth’s rightful but unacknowledged heir, right up to the bitter end; and this accounts for the amazing and even terrifying sense of urgency in these lines as they lead up to Sonnet 126 as the final “envoy” of farewell.

The royal subject matter and theme are interwoven with TIME:

But reck’ning TIME, whose million accidents
Creep in twixt vows, and change decrees of Kings…
Sonnet 115

We can feel the dying of “love” (his son’s royal blood) and his growing sense of inevitability that the Tudor Rose dynasty will be cut down by the sharp, merciless blade of TIME:

Love’s not TIME’S fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks…
Sonnet 116

And he shouts his defiance at TIME as its ending in the Sonnets approaches, accusing TIME of leaving behind its false “registers” or records, which “lie” to posterity rather than tell the truth:

No!  TIME, thou shalt not boast that I do change…
Thy registers and thee I both defy,
Not wond’ring at the present, nor the past,
For thy records and what we see doth lie,
Made more or less by thy continual haste.
This I do vow, and this shall ever be,
I will be true, despite thy scythe and thee!
Sonnet 123

And even at the end of TIME in these verses, he cries out to his royal son, who has “grown” in this diary according to the “waning” of Elizabeth the Moon:

O Thou my lovely Boy who in thy power
Dost hold TIME’S fickle glass, his sickle hour,
Who hast by waning grown…
Sonnet 126

And it occurred to me soon enough that Oxford had done something else that appeared to be sheer magic: he had tied the specific time line of the Sonnets to some very real dates in history –– dates on the calendar that he knew would never change or die, starting with Queen Elizabeth’s death on March 24, 1603 and her funeral on April 28, 1603.  In this simple way, Oxford created a bridge allowing us to step from the universal poetry of love to his specific and truthful record of events leading to the royal succession and the final loss of any chance for his royal son, Southampton, to succeed his mother the Queen:

When in the Chronicle of wasted TIME…
Sonnet 106

Now I would begin to cross that bridge to see what might be on the other side.

Published in: Uncategorized on January 28, 2009 at 5:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

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