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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: August ::
Roses
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1291  Thursday, 4 August 2005

[1]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 3 Aug 2005 09:56:00 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.1286 Roses

[2]     From:   Peter Bridgman <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 3 Aug 2005 21:24:31 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1286 Roses


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Wednesday, 3 Aug 2005 09:56:00 -0500
Subject: 16.1286 Roses
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.1286 Roses

As an example of something or other, I found it quite interesting to
consider that all my professors were wrong and the first 17 sonnets were
addressed to a woman and not a fair young man. So I hauled out my
complete works and started through from #1.

The first two contained several references that seemed more likely to
indicate a female subject, but nothing decisive.

And then I hit #3:

Looke in thy glass and tell the face thou vewest
Now is the time that face should forme an other,
Whose fresh repaire if now thou not renewst,
Thou doo'st beguile the world, unblesse some mother.
For where is she so faire whose un-eard wombe
Disdaines the tillage of thy husbandry?

Now I may be guilty of over-simplification, but this last image seems
pretty clear to me: the still-undetermined woman is the fertile field to
be tilled (plowed) by the man, the good husband (meaning both male
spouse and farmer) who will make it fruitful. And the man is definitely
the subject ("thy husbandry").

Of course, the last line of the first quatrain says much the same thing
-- the subject will "unblesse some mother" if he does not marry and
father children by her-but the syntax was more complex and I left it
till after the husbandry image.

How much more decisive can you get?

Cheers,
don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Bridgman <
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Date:           Wednesday, 3 Aug 2005 21:24:31 +0100
Subject: 16.1286 Roses
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1286 Roses

Richard Kennedy asks ...

 >If it's a lust thing, why should Shakespeare want this kid to set up as
 >a husband?

He didn't.  Whoever commissioned the first 17 Sonnets wanted the marriage.

In 1590, when Henry was seventeen, his guardian Lord Burghley (Henry had
been forcibly removed from his Catholic mother and Southampton House to
be brought up a Protestant) tried to marry off his fifteen year old
grand-daughter Elizabeth Vere to the young Earl.  Henry's mother Mary,
who was in favour of the marriage, probably contacted Shakespeare,
through a mutual Catholic acquaintance, to commission these Sonnets.

As it turned out, after secretly taking advice from Shakespeare's
cousin, the Jesuit St. Robert Southwell, Henry refused the marriage
offer and moved back in with his mother at Southampton House.

Peter Bridgman

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