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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: September ::
Syphilis
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1589  Thursday, 22 September 2005

From: 		David Basch <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 21 Sep 2005 11:24:42 -0400
Subject: 16.1559 Syphilis
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1559 Syphilis

Seeing Sonnets 153 and 154 as being a suggestion of Shakespeare's own 
bout with syphilis is an illustration of the fallacy of overlaying 
external preoccupations of commentators onto what the poet's intent is 
in these poems.

The two sonnets are like the original Greek epigram they are drawn from 
in highlighting the role of the passion of love in the nature of man but 
they differ slightly in emphasis from this and are also subtly different 
from one another. This subtle difference in emphasis is something that 
Shakespeare's codes effectively point to, on which I have expounded on 
in my book, The Shakespeare Codes.

While William Friedman and his wife Elizabeth rightly exposed as frauds 
the alleged cipher codes in Shakespeare's work that they investigated in 
their 1957 book, they were ignorant of additional sets of codes and 
cryptographic devices that were only discovered years later. (While the 
Friedmans did make a few mistakes in taking on faith things that they 
were no doubt told on highest authority, such as the false fact that the 
symphony of the word counts of 46 that were found in Psalm 46 fully 
occurred in earlier translations of the Bible, they did a great job in 
bringing enlightenment to this subject.) If only today we had 
disinterested reviewers of the caliber of the Friedmans to comment on 
the newly observed codes since their time! Unlike some commentators of 
today, who a priori wave away any taint of the possibility of the 
existence of cryptographic material in Shakespeare's work without 
investigating it or misuse and misapply the techniques of the Friedmans 
which they obviously don't understand, I think the Friedmans, were they 
around, would have done a good job in teaching these modern ostriches a 
thing or two.

The last two sonnets of the poet's collection are clearly allegories and 
some commentators have regarded them as mere appendages to the rest of 
the sonnets, which are deemed to have dealt with real day to day events 
in the life of the poet. However, another way to look at these two 
sonnets is to see them as calling to attention the fact of the 
allegorical nature of the total of the 154 sonnets. This allegory deals 
with the nature of man and his higher and lower passions in the context 
of the Divine plan for man.

Note Sonnet 147 which gives an earlier taste of the subject of the two 
last sonnets, identifying the nature of the poet's "disease" as the 
natural fact of the force of the passion of love itself:

[1]     |\/| Y loue is as a feauer longing still,
[2]     |  | For that which longer nurseth the disease,
[3]     Feeding on that which doth preserue the ill,
[4]     Th'vncertaine sicklie appetite to please:

The concluding line of the Sonnets sums it all up:

      Loues fire heates water,water cooles not loue.

As Stephen Booth observed in his book closely analyzing the words of the 
Sonnets, Shakespeare's line above is drawn from the Song of Songs 8:7:

      Many waters cannot quench love,
      neither can the floods drown it:

This again is another indication that Shakespeare regarded the source of 
this "disease" as originating in the Divine plan for man, a natural 
propensity that man must come to terms with in a manner worthy of its 
heavenly pedigree.

David Basch

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