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Home :: Archive :: 1992 :: January ::
Astral Metaphors and Wandering Barques
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 3, No. 4. Tuesday, 7 Jan 1992.
 
 
(1)	Date: 	Mon, 6 Jan 1992 15:05:50 -0500
	From: 	Chet Vittitow <cavitt01@ulkyvm.bitnet>
	Subj:   SHK 3.0003  Astral Metaphors & Sonnet 116
 
(2)	Date: 	Mon, 6 Jan 1992 16:20:00 -0500
	From: 	John S. Massa (
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 )
	Subj:  	Piers Lewis' comments on Sonnet 116
 
(3)	Date: 	Tue, 7 Jan 92 14:40:48 PST
	From: 	
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	Subj: 	SHK 3.0003  Astral Metaphors & Sonnet 116
 
 
(1)-------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Date: 		Mon, 6 Jan 1992 15:05:50 -0500
From: 		Chet Vittitow <cavitt01@ulkyvm.bitnet>
Subject: Astral Metaphors & Sonnet 116
Comment:      	SHK 3.0003  Astral Metaphors & Sonnet 116
 
I must admit that I feel a bit tentative jumping in at this point, especially
by questioning what seems to be general wisdom.  But isn't it possible
that the phrase "whose worth's unknown" modifies the ship, not the star?
 
Chet Vittitow
 
(2)-------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Date: 		Mon, 6 Jan 1992 16:20:00 -0500
From: 		John S. Massa (
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 )
Subject:  	Piers Lewis' comments on Sonnet 116
 
          May I offer the following speculation concerning the
          interpretation of the following lines from Sonnet 116:
 
          "It is the star to every wand'ring barque
           Whose worth's unknown although his height be taken."
 
          Love is the guiding star to wandering lovers (barque =
          lover).  These wandering lovers carry a heavy cargo of some
          sort, but the quality (worth) of the cargo is unknown.  Yet,
          whether the cargo is valuable or worthless (i.e., whether
          the lover is genuine or frivolous "light love") is hard to
          tell from the outside of a barque (or a person).  You have
          to eventually examine the contents of both.  However, a
          worthless cargo or a valuable cargo is heavy in either case
          and difficult to steer toward that fixed ideal of the star
          of love.
 
          This is reminiscent of (R&J II:1, 121):
 
          JULIET: By whose direction found'st thou out this place?
 
          ROMEO:  By love, that first did prompt me to enquire.
                  He lend me counsel, and I lent him eyes.
                  I am no pilot, yet wert thou as far
                  As that vast shore washed with the farthest sea,
                  I should adventure for such merchandise.
 
          So the "Guiding Love; Pilot or Ship as Lover; Merchandise;"
          cluster of ideas seems to be represented in these
          lines from Sonnet 116.
 
          In other words, I suggest Shakespeare was drawing attention
          to the height (above water) and worth (cargo) of the BARQUE,
          NOT the height and worth of the star, as suggested by
          previous comments in this electronic forum.
 
          But, as with all things Shakespearean, he probably meant
          all of the above plus 20 things we haven't even thought of
          yet.
          __________________________________________________________
                       BASIC SHAKESPEAREAN BARQUE PHYSICS
 
                            /|\
                          /  |  \
                        /    |    \
                  ____/______|______\______
           /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\  water line
                   \ wandering barque #1/
                    \__________________/      "...his height [above
                                               water] be taken." i.e.,
                                               heavy with love but
                                               heavy things can be
                                               worth much (gold) or
                                               little (lead).  So the
                                               BARQUE's WORTH is
                            /|\                unknown.
                          /  |  \
                        /    |    \
                 _____/______|______\______
                  \                      /
                   \ wandering barque #2/
         /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\  water line
                                          NOT heavy with Love, i.e.,
                                          its "height" is not taken.
          ____________________________________________________________
          end of speculation
 
          John Massa
 
(3)--------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Date: 		Tue, 7 Jan 92 14:40:48 PST
From: 		
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
Subject: Astral Metaphors & Sonnet 116
Comment: 	SHK 3.0003  Astral Metaphors & Sonnet 116
 
Well, if the poem includes no awareness that things are
not as we and the poem's author would like them to be, then
I guess we could say it's imperfect, but only if we assume
that a perfect poem must also tell the truth about the
world. I agree with you that the poem shows the stresses
of trying to maintain the truth of a transcendent ideal,
but I don't know that it is therefore an example of
De Manian deconstruction, for a work of literature
could show such stress about something that we regarded
as true.
 
Kay Stockholder
 

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