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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: June ::
Q: Word Games in the *Sonnets*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0510.  Sunday, 25 June 1995.
 
From:           Carole L. Hamilton <
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Date:           Friday, 23 Jun 1995 15:25:15 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Re: Sonnets
 
Could we start a thread on Shakespeare's sonnets?  Last year during a talk she
gave at Univ. of Virginia, Helen Vendler explained that many (most?) of his
sonnets contain word games such that each line (most lines?  a pattern?) will
contain one word or concept that gets repeated throughout the poem.
 
For instance, in sonnet #116, "Let me not to the marriage of true minds" lines
1-6 have clear and direct references to trueness: true mines (1), impediments
(2), alteration (3), bends (4), ever-fixed (5), never shaken (6), and the
ending couplet concerns trueness in terms of a kind of oath:
 
        If this be error and upon me proved,
        I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
 
I would love to read about other sonnet word games, if you know of them.  Also,
has Helen Vendler written about Shakespeare anywhere?  I haven't found any
articles, and yet she was so knowledgeable about the sonnets that I'd be
surprised if she hasn't.
 
Thanks,
Carole Hamilton

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