“The Living Record” – Chapter 37 – Interlude

I pause here to mention the irony that many words of the Sonnets that have been taken literally are actually meant to signify something else.

Title Page of the Sonnets of 1609

Title Page of the Sonnets of 1609

For example, the words “bright” and “fair” and “golden” — to name just a few — carry their usual meanings on the surface, but the author (Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford) is in fact creating an illusion of variety by “dressing old words new” (Sonnet 76) or exchanging one word for another to mean the same thing.

All three words “bright” and “fair” and “golden” are adjectives meaning “royal.”

Sonnet 1: “thine own bright eyes” – your own royal eyes
Sonnet 13:  “So fair a house” = so royal a House of Tudor
Sonnet 3:  “thy golden time” – your time of royal hope

Meanwhile many other words that have been viewed as merely metaphorical are actually intended to be taken literally, such as the word “King,” as in:

And all those beauties whereof now he’s King
Are vanishing, or vanished out of sight.

Sonnet 63

Thus have I had thee as a dream doth flatter,
In sleep a King, but waking no such matter.

Sonnet 87

(Each “King” is capitalized in the 1609 quarto.)

Opening Page of the Sonnets of 1609: the first two lines meaning, "From most royal children we command heirs, so Elizabeth's dynasty of the Tudor Rose might not die when she does."

Opening Page of the Sonnets of 1609: the first two lines meaning, "From most royal children we command heirs, so Elizabeth's dynasty of the Tudor Rose might not die when she does."

Oxford is referring literally to Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, his son by Queen Elizabeth, as a king — as one who should succeed his mother on the throne as Henry IX of England; but because the Queen refuses to acknowledge him, and later because he is found guilty of high treason, he has lost that chance.

Oxford uses the diary of the Sonnets to record Southampton’s loss of kingship.  He also records the sacrifice of his own identity as Southampton’s father and as the writer known as “Shakespeare,” the pen name he had adopted to publicly support his son.

“Ocean” is a word used by Elizabethan writers for king; and here we see the author (Oxford) recording that King James is getting ready to come down to England, once Elizabeth dies, to claim the throne:

When I have seen the hungry Ocean gain
Advantage on the Kingdom of the shore

Sonnet 64

What do traditional editors (Stratfordians) have to say about these “Kings”?

Well, for example, in the Arden edition Katherine Duncan-Jones ignores the “King” word in Sonnet 63 entirely, but she then deals with the “King” word in Sonnet 87 in a curious way:

First she says the poet is suggesting he has “enjoyed intense happiness.”  (In other words, it’s a metaphor.)  Then, however, she suggests some kind of association with King James; but changing course again, she goes on to say that “King” could “apply to the addressee [Southampton], elevated to kingly status, or the status of a specific King, only by the speaker’s imagination.”  (Emphasis added)

Of course!  If Will of Stratford is the writer, the “King” stuff can’t be real.

Since the sonnets are autobiographical, reading them with the wrong man in mind as author is fatal!

Imagine receiving a letter that says, “Dear ______, I love you,” but there’s no indication of who wrote it.  In such a case, of course, knowing the identity of the author makes all the difference!

So, too, with the Sonnets.

So long as Will of Stratford is viewed as the author, the “King” in those lines cannot refer to Southampton as a real, if unacknowledged, king — except in his imagination, and it can only be a metaphor.  The traditional view of the authorship dictates that the true, underlying story of the Sonnets is lost.

It’s been lost for 400 years.

Published in: Uncategorized on July 19, 2009 at 3:54 am  Leave a Comment  

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