A Bargain for Southampton’s Life – “The Living Record” – Chapter 44

Sonnet 47 – February 28, 1601

Three days after the execution of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, this sonnet resolves the struggle between Oxford’s eye (mind) and heart (emotions) described in the previous verse — the struggle between his duty to the state, having to vote for a guilty verdict against both Essex and Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton … and then to work behind the scenes for the latter, his son by the Queen, in order to hopefully save his life.

The Earl of Essex, beheaded at the Tower Green on February 25, 1601

The Earl of Essex, beheaded at the Tower Green on February 25, 1601

Oxford records that a “league” or bargain with Secretary Robert Cecil has been struck in order to spare Southampton from execution. The ransom price, however, will be Southampton’s relinquishment of any claim to the throne. Meanwhile Oxford writes to record again that the image of his imprisoned royal son is always with him:\

Betwixt mine eye and heart a league is took,

(“You peers, continue this united league” – Richard III, 2.1.2)

And each doth good turns now unto the other;

When that mine eye is famished for a look,
Or heart in love with sighs himself doth smother,
With my love’s picture then my eye doth feast,
And to the painted banquet bids my heart:
An other time mine eye is my heart’s guest,
And in his thoughts of love doth share a part.

(“The pleasure that some fathers feed upon is my strict fast – I mean my children’s looks, and therein fasting hast thou made me gaunt” – Richard II, 2.1.79-81;  “And so my state … show’d like a feast” – the king in 1 Henry IV, 3.2.53-59)

So either by thy picture or my love,
Thy self away, art present still with me:
For thou no further than my thoughts canst move,
And I am still with them, and they with thee;
Or if they sleep, thy picture in my sight
Awakes my heart to heart’s and eye’s delight.

Are these sonnets referring to Southampton being “away” in the Tower?  Look at these references:

“Things removed” – Sonnet 31, line 8
“O absence” – Sonnet 39, line 9
“When I am sometime absent from thy heart” – Sonnet 41, line 2
“Where thou art” – Sonnet 41, line 12
“Injurious distance” – Sonnet 44, line 1
“Where thou dost stay” – Sonnet 44, line 4
“Removed from thee” – Sonnet 44, line 6
“Present-absent” – Sonnet 45, line 4
“Where thou art” – Sonnet 51, line 3
“The bitterness of absence” – Sonnet 57, line 6
“Where you may be” – Sonnet 57, line 10
“Where you are” – Sonnet 57, line 12
“The imprisoned absence of your liberty” – Sonnet 58, line 6
“Where you list” – Sonnet 58, line 9
“Thou dost wake elsewhere” – Sonnet 61, line 12
“All away” – Sonnet 75, line 14
“Be absent from thy walks” – Sonnet 89, line 9
“How like a Winter hath my absence been/ From thee” – Sonnet 97, line 1
“This time removed” – Sonnet 97, line 5
“And thou away” – Sonnet 97, line 12
“You away” – Sonnet 98, line 13

King James VI of Scotland, for whom Robert Cecil is now working, behind Queen Elizabeth's back, in order to engineer his succession (with Southampton being held hostage in the Tower until James can be proclaimed King of England)

King James VI of Scotland, for whom Robert Cecil is now working, behind Queen Elizabeth's back, in order to engineer his succession (with Southampton being held hostage in the Tower until James can be proclaimed King of England)

To be continued…

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi Hank,

    R. H. Winnick has an essay on Sonnet
    anagrams containing the name *WRIOTHESLEY*
    That created quite a stir at SHAKSPER
    last year before Hardy Cook stifled it.

    See: http://litimag.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/imp049v1

    Perhaps the best Winnick anagram is of your:

    “Where you list” – Sonnet 58, line 9
    ……………………………………
    ____ *WHERE YOU LIST*
    ______ {anagram}
    _____ *U WRIOTHESLEY*
    …………………………………..

    And the full phrase: “Be where you list”
    makes an even nicer anagram IMO:
    ……………………………………
    ____ *BE WHERE YOU LIST*
    ______ {anagram}
    ____ *WRIOTHESLEY / BUE*
    …………………………….
    ______ *BUE* : *OX* (Italian)
    ————————————-
    PISTOL: Elves, *LIST* YOur names;
    _______ silence, you airy toys.
    ————————————-
    FOYI, Art Neuendorffer

    • Art, you’re amazing. And I think more and more folks are realizing that your investigations along these lines are revealing important information left by writers in the 16th-17th centuries. Thanks for this and for all the rest of your work. Hank


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