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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: August ::
Sonnet 89
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1529  Friday, 13 August 2004

[1]     From:   Sally Drumm <
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        Date:   Thursday, 12 Aug 2004 09:29:16 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1520 Sonnet 89

[2]     From:   Stephen C. Rose <
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        Date:   Thursday, 12 Aug 2004 07:37:07 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1520 Sonnet 89

[3]     From:   Peter Bridgman <
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        Date:   Thursday, 12 Aug 2004 20:33:20 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1520 Sonnet 89


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sally Drumm <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Aug 2004 09:29:16 -0400
Subject: 15.1520 Sonnet 89
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1520 Sonnet 89

"They contain puzzles which will probably never be wholly answered, and
this may be a part of their enigmatic charm. But most of all they speak
with powerful, rich, and complex emotion of a very dramatic kind, and we
cannot fail to hear in them a voice of passion and intelligence" (49-50)."

I am sure there are several academic papers addressing why Shakespeare
developed the sonnet form as he did in his unique way, a form that has
yet to be bested.  I haven't read those papers.  I am a longtime reader
of Shakespeare, and not a Shakespeare scholar, but I certainly admire
those who are.  I am a graduate student of creative writing and I often
turn to Shakespeare for quotes, and just as often for inspiration.  What
better teacher for a writer?

I have found the discussion on sonnets particularly intriguing.  I love
language puzzles and forms and like to create them myself.  Last spring
I looked to the sonnets of Shakespeare for a quote, and ended up reading
through them all, once again.  As I read, I wondered why he had
developed the sonnet form as he did.  I wondered what I would find if I
read just the couplets of each sonnet, in sequence, from first to last.
  So I read just the last two lines from each sonnet in sequence.  I was
reading from the Amaranth Press, Masters Library, Complete Works of
Shakespeare, 1985.

Call me touched if you like, or laugh if you will, but quite a story was
revealed in placing those lines together, a fascinating tale, either
autobiographical or accidental, hidden in a carefully crafted puzzle, or
not.  And I wondered, had the man intentionally created the form as a
personal journal of sorts, using his craft to sequester his hopes for
the future, for the life of his work, leaving the form as a clue to the
hidden value of the couplets.  He was certainly clever enough to do so.

Sincerely,
Sally Drumm

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephen C. Rose <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Aug 2004 07:37:07 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 15.1520 Sonnet 89
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1520 Sonnet 89

Autobiographical snippets may or may not be relevant or even accessible.
But the author is not. Nor our sense of the author. We have the right
(pace H. Bloom, Goddard) to believe we are understanding and relating to
an author, aka a person with a history.

I also do not feel anything like Auden's seeming notion that form
follows function in poetry. I am inclined to believe the opposite. I
think the sonnet or hiaku forms are creative catalysts.

If this is a profound misunderstanding, apologies in advance.

Best, S

Jack Hettinger <
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 > writes,

 >"If what Auden says is right (and it seems to
 >me almost indisputable),
 >then the question of the documentary nature of
 >the Sonnets is largely
 >irrelevant. This will no doubt leave some
 >readers feeling cheated. But
 >the Sonnets are, first and last, poems, and it
 >should be our task to
 >read, evaluate, and enjoy them as such.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Bridgman <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Aug 2004 20:33:20 +0100
Subject: 15.1520 Sonnet 89
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1520 Sonnet 89

In her Intro to the Arden edition (3rd series) of the Sonnets Katherine
Duncan Jones suggests why Auden might've avoided an autobiographical reading

"Though anyone with a knowledge of Auden's biography might expect him to
celebrate and endorse the homoerotic character of 1-126, he was
absolutely determined not to do so, at least publicly.  In his 1964
Signet edition Auden claimed - as G Wilson Knight had done - that the
promary experience explored in Sonnets was 'mystical', and he was
extremely scathing about putative readers of homosexual inclinations who
might be 'determined to secure our Top-Bard as a patron saint of the
Homintern'.  Yet his public adoption of this position seems to have been
a characteristic instance of Auden's cowardice, for later in 1964 he
confessed to friends that a public account of Shakespeare (evidently
equated by Auden with the speaker in Sonnets) as homosexual 'won't do
just yet'.  Perhaps Auden was referring to the changes in legislation
then under discussion:  Parliament finally decriminalized homosexual
acts between consenting adults in July 1967.  Consequent changes in
attitude have also been slow to take effect.  Not until the American
Joseph Pequigney's Such Is My Love in 1985 was a homoerotic reading of
Shakespeare's Sonnets positively and systematically championed."

Peter Bridgman

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