I am, of course referring to Shakespeare’s sonnets. The most obvious element of the 154 sonnets has not been entertained. Perhaps this is because… I will not say it is due to the fact that no analysis of these sonnets has been performed by a poet. No, rather it is more possible that no poet or non poet, for that matter, has ever undertaken (as have I) to write a sequence of poems (and specifically sonnets) to himself.
Anyone who is familiar with me in the least will know that I tend toward long-winded explanations of subjects in which I am interested. However, here you will be disappointed. I will only state the following: Either first undertake the sequence I mentioned. Write yourself a sequence of poems–written from yourself as you are now, to yourself when much younger: a teen or a child perhaps. It will help if they have the same form and perhaps would help more, for my purposes, if they were sonnets, but certainly, the more consistent structure, the better for this exercise. Write a sufficient number of them. Let us say… perhaps ten at the minimum. If you do this, you will know the answer to the question in the title of this article. You will not help but know the answer. Or if you are not willing to do this, you may read the next paragraph, but the answer will appear like speculation to you unless you have done what I ask.
The answer to the question is simply that these sonnets were all written by Mr. Shakespeare to his younger self. This renders both popular theories, one with merit, and one without, as incorrect. The first theory is obvious enough not to be stated, however it is that Shakespeare is writing to advise all young men, as there is no evidence of a particular young man whom he had befriended at the time the sonnets were written (during the plague, it seems, when he was all but “holed up” in his house and could not by law engage in his profession of staging his plays) the other theory is not worth a mention but marxists find one reason or another to promote it. Therefore I shan’t even justify it. It is without merit, and for more reasons than anyone is willing or able to state. Still… why not a message to all young men or a particular friend? His reference to the dark lady “that they both love” is the answer. But more than that there is no point in relating until you perform the exercise I suggest.
It is the simplest way to make the case (after which you should go back and read all 154 sonnets again.) Honestly. You will see that the ways in which someone speaks to his younger self are unique–are not, cannot be, those he would employ when speaking to anyone else. Try it. It will convince you! But, as I previously stated, all this will seem like supposition until you do as I ask.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
…is sonnet IV of the Shakespeare reflected variety. As usual, it is a reverse Spenserian. Internal rhymes are all couplets (also as per usual) however this time, I used all of Shakespeare’s rhyming words for these. I use these in the order in which they appear, excepting that they are rearranged to couplet form. Mechanically this worked better than expected; however I feel the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end, as no doubt, Lucas is “gunning” for this one.
This appears to be #7 in a sequence; or at the very least, a series of some kind.
Plutarch, of liberal instance, coming forth
In prose, historically reconciled
With fate, persuaded Shakespeare that more worth
Brief freedom has alive and undefiled
Than longevous disgrace enslaved. One must
Consider in accord with courage what
To do, by daily judgment deeming just
Those deeds that quicken liberty. So thought
The poet when Marcus Brutus he perused,
Not from the manly tenor of that book
Withdrawing. Civic wisdom was infused
Into his spine, which would not lightly crook
Upon consensus. Forcibly erect,
No slavish bent he’d suffer in defect.
…I began feeling a bit under the weather. And in a few minutes, I will settle down into my bed with my laptop and something fizzy to soothe my throat, and write the answer to Will Shakespeare’s sonnet II; which prompt, I have already posted. I do like doing these; however, now I have two sequences that are essentially notes to myself. I’m not sure how to characterise that.
Also: I, of late, have been thinking I should number all my sonnets. I am not sure the numbering system I should use, however. There are the short sequences and there should be some method for making them sequential whether or not I add to them later or not. Still… that type of enumeration, in and of itself, might be confusing as well. Perhaps I should just use plain sequential numbers and keep things in date order. That, or I could use two different systems depending on what type of cataloguing I, or another reader, might like to do.
“Kirkpatrick” type numbers and perhaps “Shorto” (rather than “Longo“) numbers. This is a reference to Domenico Scarlatti, whose sonatas have three different numbering systems, mostly rather confusing, with Kirkpatrick being the most used–and which puts Scarlatti’s sonatas in sequential order by date as well as can be done.
Regarding my sonnets, these ‘K’ numbers would be chronological simply as: K1, K2, K3, &c.
The ‘S’ numbers would be Chronological as S1, S2, S3, &c; except where sequences are involved, I would then, perhaps, note the place where sonnet number one of a sequence first appears (whether it is out of order or not) and then, for example:
If S2 marks the first of a sequence, it will be numbered S2.1, and the next in the sequence would be S2.2, S2.3, &c, (all the way up to S2.154 or more if necessary!) These would not indicate very well how many sonnets in total there might be, but the ‘K’ numbers would be for that purpose.
I might even try ‘P’ numbers also, for “Petrucci,” or whatever type of pasta the third system for classifying Scarlatti’s sonatas is named; which might group all sonnets by subject, perhaps in a similar way as the ‘S’ numbers. Very well… I looked it up, it is, in fact, “Pestelli.” Sounds delicious, perhaps tossed with seafood and Alfredo sauce. This is making me hungry. “Feed a cold,” do they say, after all.
This would make the mnemonic for these three systems fairly straight forward. If ‘K’ numbers are simple enumerators, and ‘S’ numbers are sequence based, and ‘P’ numbers are subject related; then we might say “Count, Sequence, Passion,” which would help one remember which is which: K for count (or Kount), ‘S’ for sequence, and ‘P’ for passion (hence subject).
I suppose I could also use the unique post id that wordpress provides. However, this, I have found does not exist on every screen wherein one might want or need it.
I could, of course, leave such enumeration to posterity, but I find myself needing and wanting such numbers now, for a variety of reasons.
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.