“‘Tis Thee (My Self) that for My Self I Praise” – Anticipating Southampton’s Execution for High Treason – Sonnet 62

THE PRISON YEARS

DAY THIRTY-SIX IN THE TOWER

SOUTHAMPTON BEHEADING EXPECTED SOON

Sonnet 62

‘Tis Thee (My Self)

15 March 1601

As the hour draws near for Southampton to be executed, Oxford records that his own self-love is based solely upon his love for his royal son.  In fact, these two loves are indistinguishable one from the other.  They are one and the same — “‘Tis thee (my self) that for my self I praise” — and therefore father and son share the same fate, whatever it may be.

1 – Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye,

2 – And all my soul, and all my every part;

3 – And for this sin there is no remedy,

4 – It is so grounded inward in my heart.

5 – Methinks no face so gracious is as mine,

6 – No shape so true, no truth of such account,

7 – And for my self mine own worth do define,

8 – As I all other in all worths surmount.

9 – But when my glass shows me my self indeed

10 – Beated and chopped with tanned antiquity,

11 – Mine own self-love quite contrary I read;

12 – Self so self-loving were iniquity.

13 – ‘Tis thee (my self) that for my self I praise,

14 – Painting my age with beauty of thy days.

1 SIN OF SELF-LOVE POSSESSETH ALL MINE EYE,

SIN = crime; (“Some sins do bear their privilege on earth, and so doth yours; your fault was not your folly” – the Bastard in King John, 1.1; “And water cannot wash away your sin” – Richard II, 4.1.242); SELF-LOVE = the crime of loving his own self, which is actually his royal son; (“For thee, and for my self” – Sonnet 27, line 14; “my friend and I are one” – Sonnet 42, line 13; and line 14 of this sonnet: “thee (my self)”); i.e., they are “one flesh” as father and son; therefore, in loving his son he is guilty of self-love; ALL = Southampton; Oxford’s sin is loving that “other self” that is his own son, and in continuing to recognize Southampton’s royal blood and his right to succeed Elizabeth  – a sin or treasonous crime, if he admitted it in public.

The Tower of London

The Tower of London

2 AND ALL MY SOUL, AND ALL MY EVERY PART;

ALLALL = Southampton, his motto; MY SOUL = my heart, my spirit, my being, my essence; the immortal part of himself, which is now his royal son, for whom he is writing these sonnets to preserve his immortality; (Elizabeth has also been his soul, but she is depriving herself of her royal son’s ability to continue her lineage; and so, in the Dark Lady series, Oxford refers to the Queen’s “blind soul” in Sonnet 136, line 2, and addresses her as “Poor soul, the center of my sinful earth” – Sonnet 146, line 1; “the mortal Venus, the heart-blood of beauty, love’s visible soul” – Troilus and Cressida, 3.1.32-33; EVERY = E. Ver, Edward de Vere, Ever or Never; ALL MY EVERY PART = Oxford and Southampton joined by their father-son blood relationship (all-every) and now joined by this very language that Oxford has devised in order to express it; PART = “All his gracious parts … my boy, my Arthur, my fair son!” – of the prince in King John, 3.3.96,103; the line is reminiscent of Oxford’s public dedication of Lucrece (1594) as by “William Shakespeare” to Southampton: “What I have done is yours, what I have to do is yours, being part in all I have, devoted yours.”

3 AND FOR THIS SIN THERE IS NO REMEDY,

REMEDY = (rhymes with “eye”); cure; medicine; physic; redress; a legal term echoing the trial of Essex and Southampton; NO REMEDY = no means of better satisfying, much less reversing, the judgment against his son: “To atone your fears with my more noble meaning, not a man shall pass his quarter or offend the stream of regular justice in your city’s bounds but shall be remedied to your public laws at heaviest answer.” – Timon of Athens, 5.4.58-63

4 IT IS SO GROUNDED INWARD IN MY HEART.

SO GROUNDED INWARD = linked so closely, i.e., by blood, mine in his; MY HEART = Oxford’s heart is Southampton’s heart; “For all that beauty that doth cover thee/ Is but the seemly raiment of my heart/ … Presume not on thy heart when mine is slain,/ Thou gav’st me thine not to give back again” – Sonnet 22, lines 5-6, 13-14; “And my heart’s right thy inward love of heart” – Sonnet 46, line 14;  “Take heed (dear heart) of this large privilege” – Sonnet 95, line 13, referring to his royal son as “dear heart”; “No, let me be obsequious in thy heart” – Sonnet 125, line 9

5 METHINKS NO FACE SO GRACIOUS IS AS MINE,

GRACIOUS = filled with royal grace; “A gracious king that pardons all offences” – Henry VIII, 2.2.66; FACE = Oxford’s face reflects his son’s face; the “face-royal” or kingly visage (and the visage stamped on the coin of the realm called a royal: “And yet he will not stick to say his face is a face-royal.  God may finish it when He will, ‘tis not a hair amiss yet.  He may keep it sill at a face-royal, for a barber shall never earn sixpence out of it.  And yet he’ll be crowning as if he had writ man ever since his father was a bachelor.  He may keep his own grace, but he’s almost out of mine, I can assure him” – Falstaff speaking of Prince Hal in 2 Henry IV, 1.2.22-28

6 NO SHAPE SO TRUE, NO TRUTH OF SUCH ACCOUNT,

TRUETRUTH = Oxford, Nothing Truer than Truth; ACCOUNT = value; reckoning; computation; estimation; accounting;

7 AND FOR MY SELF MINE OWN WORTH DO DEFINE,

AND FOR MY SELF, etc. = and for my self I define my own royalty, as father; MINE OWN WORTH = my own royal son, reflected in me; MINE OWN = “a son of mine own” – Oxford to Burghley, March 17, 1575; Sonnets 23, 39, 49, 61, 62, 72, 88, 107, 110; “Bless’d, and mine own” – Pericles, 5.3.48, Thaisa speaking of her daughter, Marina

8 AS I ALL OTHER IN ALL WORTHS SURMOUNT.

ALL … ALL = Southampton, One for All, All for One; ALL WORTHS = all royal qualities related to my royal son; SURMOUNT = surpass

9 BUT WHEN MY GLASS SHOWS ME MY SELF INDEED

MY GLASS = my mirror and hourglass; INDEED = in truth

10 BEATED AND CHOPPED WITH TANNED ANTIQUITY,

A clear statement of Oxford as much older and more mature than the traditional notion of the poet’s age; BEATED = beaten, i.e., by Elizabeth and Robert Cecil; CHOPPED = hacked; an image of Southampton’s head being hacked or chopped off, as Essex’s was; “He is a traitor; let him to the Tower, and chop away that factious pate of his” – 2 Henry VI, 5.1.134-135; (“chapped, chafed, roughened … dried up, fissured, cracked” – Crystal & Crystal); TANNED = weathered; also darkened, as by Elizabeth’s cloud or negative view, casting its shadow over Southampton and covering or obscuring his royal identity and disgracing him; ANTIQUITY = old age; Oxford will be fifty-one upon his next birthday, April 12, 1601, no longer young by Elizabethan standards; (see “antiquity” in another context in Sonnet 108, line 12: “But makes antiquity for aye his page”); also ancient date or time

11 MINE OWN SELF-LOVE QUITE CONTRARY I READ:

MINE OWN SELF-LOVE QUITE CONTRARY = my own love of my self is quite the contrary; (“a son of mine own” – Oxford to Burghley, March 17, 1575); LOVE = royal blood; in this instance, of Southampton; and possessed indirectly by Oxford, as father, although he cannot claim paternity

12 SELF SO SELF-LOVING WERE INIQUITY.

This self-love would be a sin (but in the next line, he explains by saying that it’s you, my self, whom I am praising)…

13 ‘TIS THEE (MY SELF) THAT FOR MY SELF I PRAISE, 

It is you, who are my own self, whom I praise when I praise my self; i.e., in praising you I praise myself; (“’Tis thee, my alter ego, my second self, that I praise as if myself” – Dowden); PRAISE = pay homage to you as prince; write of you as prince and king in these sonnets.

14 PAINTING MY AGE WITH BEAUTY OF THY DAYS

Recording the time of my own life in the act of writing in these sonnets that are filled with your blood from Elizabeth; now “painting” or writing day-by-day since the Rebellion; chronicling “thy days” in this diary, on a daily basis, until you are either executed or spared; an image of Oxford writing these sonnets as a painter using “paint” — which is, in fact, his son’s royal blood; “A Woman’s face with nature’s own hand painted/ Hast thou” – Sonnet 20, to Southampton, referring to the image of his mother the Queen (who is both Woman and Nature in the sonnet), which is reflected in his face

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